Sowerby's most famous (or perhaps, more accurately, least obscure) composition
is the overture Come Autumn Time which Solti conducted with the Chicago
SO during the 1980s. Before that the music had dropped from orchestral programmes
for many years and still struggles to make headway even in these times of
more catholic tastes in which people are recapturing the romance of the first
half of the century.
Sowerby, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, became a devotee of the organ and
many of his compositions are for that instrument. The Classical Concerto
is in three movements: snappy, dreamy and in the finale echoing the string
writing of Vaughan Williams (Partita and Concerto Grosso).
The Medieval Poem is in a more challenging language with suggestions
of Hovhaness (the wandering trumpet tune at 1.55) and Delius (his Dance
Rhapsodies). This Delian impressionism is intensified by the solo voice
of soprano Rita Lilly. The 1931 Pageant I found predominantly rather
drab but the three movement Festival Musick is a different proposition
with its clashing harmonies, Waltonian brass, and quiet chorales. Unfortunately
my copy of the disc must have been defective as the music disappeared in
the middle of the last movement (track 8). Approach with caution. My copy
may have been an isolated blip but in the circumstances I must give a low
star rating despite a disc that was largely of most promising calibre.