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ELGAR Enigma Variations
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS  Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Frederic AUSTIN Overture - The Sea Venturers
Prelude to Colomba
Seamus O'Brien

RLPO/Douglas Bostock
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The "heritage and legacy" is that of the so-called English Renaissance: five works from the period 1883-1934. Two are well known, hackneyed almost; the very acceptable performances of Elgar's Enigma and Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia do not supplant the best versions of each currently available. What makes the issue outstanding and even important are the three shorter pieces, all in a sense "firsts" for all that these take up barely a third of this disc. Frederic Austin is best remembered nowadays as the arranger of The Beggar's Opera, a version enormously popular in the early 1920s and for long after. He was brought up in Liverpool and his overture The Sea Venturers (1934) is a tribute to that city and its mariners. It is written for a large, Richard Straussian orchestra and begins stormily, even dissonantly, but gradually becomes broader and more mellow, ending in a blaze of confidence. I am surprised to hear it has, according to Lewis Foreman's admirable booklet notes, only previously been performed five times. Surely it is due for another run in the concert hall. Mackenzie's Prelude to his opera Colomba (1883) is marvellously, prodigally tuneful and again the RLPO are again good advocates for it. Stanford's overture to his lightest and probably most popular opera, Shamus O'Brien (1896) has not been recorded since 78 rpm days and then not complete. It draws on two traditional Irish melodies and skips happily along. I applaud Douglas Bostock's and the RLPO's enterprise (and excellent playing) and recommend the release warmly.

Philip Scowcroft

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