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English String Miniatures Vol. 6
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
A Moorside Suite (1928) (arr. Philip Lane)
Scherzo, Nocturne, March
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Chacony in G minor, Z.730 (ed. Benjamin Britten)
Paul LEWIS (b.1943)
Rosa Mundi (2003)
Adam CARSE (1878-1958)
The Winton Suite (1933)
Prelude Air Dance Song Finale
Paul CARR (b.1961)
A Very English Music (2002)
Cuckmere Haven Cornish Air The Hunt Gathering
Malcolm LIPKIN (b.1932)
From Across La Manche (1998)
Overture Ballade Dance-finale
Lionel SAINSBURY (b.1958)
Two Nocturnes (1990)
Molto lento Mesto e semplice
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Bethlehem Down (1927) Carol for strings (arr. Philip Lane)
William LLOYD WEBBER (1914-1982)
Waltz in E minor (1939)
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland
rec. Phoenix Sound, Wembley, London, Aug/Nov 2003. DDD
NAXOS 8.557753 [74:15]
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This disc of string miniatures contains a mixture of the works of contemporary and classical composers. If this is aimed at library collectors I should question the mixing of styles from so diverse a range of composers. The modern recording is of high calibre with competent musicians and leadership. Sutherland's reading is alert and intuitive, and he is clearly at home with this genre.
The Chacony in G Minor by Purcell is a set of variations of differing rhythmic patterns based on an eight bar section. It is the earliest of the compositions represented on the disc and has some endearing qualities.
An early suite by Holst, Moorside, carries distinctive mature characteristics of this Gloucestershire composer when 54. Of the movements, the March is the best, with tuneful distinctive charm. The Scherzo with folksong qualities is rather low key while the Nocturne meanders aimlessly without due focus.
A gathering breezy power of Carr's oddly titled, A Very English Music, successfully engages the listener as it sweeps across the Sussex landscape. I found the soundscape portrayed by The Hunt at Laycock somewhat disappointing: the orchestra pedantically trots along without the excitement of a galloping rhythm.
Sainsbury's Nocturnes are modern, but carry a certain classical respectability. Good chord structures give the Mesto e semplice a tangible strength.
Lipkin's From Across La Manche opens with a stirring and energetic Overture somewhat reminiscent of a Hitchcock film score and follows with a tranquil and more accessible Ballade, written in the Bruckner vein. Its Dance-Finale seems inaptly titled since the broken rhythms are unlikely to fit any dancers' needs and I did not recognize the Mazurka style referred to in the notes.
Lewis's Rosa Mundi, the most recent composition on the disc, drifts with monotonous repetition of its simple theme.
The Winton Suite Prelude provides an energetic opening to provide contrast to a less inspired Air that follows. The truly inspired Dance is cheery and brings forth a spirit that is captivating. This mood is picked up again by the Finale that is enthusiastically played in sprightly fashion.
Good, brief notes are provided on the composers and background to the music. They are by Philip Lane and are in English only.
Raymond J Walker

see also reviews by Rob Barnett and Gwyn Parry-Jones

for reviews of other Naxos releases of British composers, see the themed release page

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