These are, with the exception of All on a Summer's Day, world premiere
Sowerby is least unknown for his organ and church choral music. His orchestral
music has been difficult to track down though there was the isolated LP including
one from the 1950s in which the Vienna Symphony read through both Prairie
and From the Northland. This disc was released in 1998 marking Sowerby's
The Second Symphony is a 'jazz age' production but with manifest infusions
of Delian dreaminess (note the cor anglais at 3.08 in the first movement).
The sleepy idylls return for the central recitative and the final fugue.
In the middle movement we are also reminded of RVW's Pastoral Symphony.
Elegiac trumpet notes float across the prairies. Sowerby is no stranger to
vigour and there is a strongly defined rhythmic punch in the first movement
and some heroic brass 'ramparts' reminiscent of Howard Hanson. While I suspect
that a more electrifying performance might be possible this one rewards in
The 1941 Concert Overture is a cousin of Bantock's Pagan
Symphony, Bax's Spring Fire and the Delius Dance Rhapsodies.
Walton's Scapino is also a reference but there is more romantic meat
on Sowerby's bones than on Walton's star-burst of an overture. Incidentally
Walton had been friend of Sowerby since 1927. Frederick Stock, conductor
of the Chicago Symphony, was a supporter of both composers and made a famous
recording of Scapino.
The Passacaglia, Interlude and Fugue has an unpromising title. However
the Bach-like resonances of each component are not far off the mark when
the light piano touches and bubbling spirit sound so like a Stokowski Bach
arrangement. A grand chorale rears high at 5.00 - Rubbra-like and defiant.
Later early Delius meets the Franz Schmidt's Hussar Song Variations amid
delicate wavelets of sound. Not totally convincing but an engaging listen.
The day in All on a Summer's Day must have been a windy one - exhilaration
without anxiety - a jazzy fugue at 1.38 recalls Bliss and Lambert and at
3.40 the side-drum roll in the Moeran Sinfonietta.
All in all this is a very representative and sound collection and a credit
to Çédille. Recording quality fine and little to choose between
the two recording venues and bands though I did think that there was an acoustic
gain to the radio studio. Their acumen in selecting Francis Crociata as the
note writer was rewarded in the form of ten pages of easily readable and
No. 1 (1921) f.p. Stock/Chicago 7 Apr 1922
Psalm Symphony (1924) unperformed
No. 2 (1928) f.p. Stock/Chicago 29 Mar 1929
No. 3 (1940) f.p. Stock/Chicago 6 Mar 1941
No. 4 (1944) f.p. Koussevitsky/Boston 7 Jan 1949
No. 5 (1964) requested by Ormandy but unperformed