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Some items
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in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







alternatively Crotchet

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra Op.49/H175 (1929) [14:54]
St Paulís Suite Op. 29 No.2/H118 (1913) [12:26]
Brook Green Suite H190 (1933) [6:01]
A Song of the Night for Violin and Orchestra Op.19 No.1/H74 [8:14]
Lyric Movement for Viola and Chamber Orchestra H191 (1933) [11:32]
A Fugal Concerto for Flute, Oboe and Strings Op.40/H152 (1922) [8:26]
Janice Graham (violin), Sarah Ewins (violin), Andriy Viytovych (viola), Anna Pyne (flute), Philip Harmer (oboe)
English Sinfonia/Howard Griffiths
rec. St Clements Church, Islington, London, November 2005
NAXOS 8.570339 [61:33]

I was expecting good things here but by and large I was disappointed. Since the disc largely replicates the running order of Imogen Holstís old Lyrita LP I thought it wouldnít be a bad idea to judge the newcomer against the standards set on that disc. You wonít need to dust down your vinyl Ė itís out on Lyrita SRCD223.
The Lyric Movement for Viola and Chamber Orchestra is one of the more successful performances. Andriy Viytovych is a good player but neither he nor Howard Griffith really quite summons up the sheer level of atmosphere that Cecil Aronowitz, the ECO and Imogen Holst managed. I was also distracted by the over-prominent flute.
Griffiths is in a tearing hurry in the Brook Green Suite. Heís obviously not the kind of conductor to be seduced by its central movement Ė which is neither tender nor affectionate Ė and his off-hand professionalism does little for Holst. The big entries are over-done and this brusque approach also does for the finale. Imogen Holst is steadier and wittier.
Itís dťjŗ vu all over again in the St Paulís Suite. To be frank I donít think Iíve ever heard a more perfunctory run-through than this. Surely the answer to treacly go-rounds is not this kind of indifference. The finaleís Greensleeves counter-theme is too fast, dynamics are not graded and the outsize contrasts make mincemeat of the thing.
Not having much luck I turned in mounting desperation to A Fugal Concerto. Yes, this sounded vibrant and forthcoming but no, next to William Bennett, Peter Graeme and co. this sounds, again, less than stellar.† At a steadier tempo the Lyrita crew bring out the witty baroque elements but Griffiths is again too brusque and his soloists lack personality. Everyone concerned makes a right old meal of the Adagioís pizzicati.
Even the Concerto for Two Violins suffers from this straight-backed and apparently wintry approach. Emanuel Hurwitz and Kenneth Sillito took fourteen and a half minutes over this and the young guns zip by in 11:54. Well, timings arenít everything and I often favour fast tempi - but not here. I liked the rare A Song of the Night for Violin and Orchestra Ė did I detect a modicum of affection for the thing?
Even at Naxosís price I would avoid this and head straight for the Lyrita. The performances there are warmly convincing but lack nothing in spine. These Naxos ones are, Iím afraid, decidedly off-putting.
Jonathan Woolf

British Composers on Naxos page



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