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Lyrita Classics
Michael BALFE (1808-1870)
The Bohemian Girl: Galop (1843) [1:26]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’ Op. 36: X. Dorabella (1899) [2:41]
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 5 in C Op. 39 (1930) [5:41]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Andrew Davis
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
A Village Romeo and Juliet: The Walk to the Paradise Garden (1905) [10:49]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Myer Fredman
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Shepherd’s Hey; The Immovable Do (1908-13; 1933-42) [2:11; 5:04]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Sir Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)
An Irish Symphony: The Fair-Day (1904) [3:01]
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Capriol, Suite for full orchestra (1926-28) [9:47]
London Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Lord BERNERS (1883-1950)
The Triumph of Neptune: Hornpipe (1926) [1:50]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
St. Paul’s Suite for strings Op. 29 No. 2 (1913) [13:28]
English Chamber Orchestra/Imogen Holst
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) [16:08]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. Jan 1979, Kingsway Hall (Balfe); Jan 1974, Walthamstow Assembly Hall (Elgar); Jan 1970, Walthamstow Assembly Hall (Delius); Aug 1978, Kingsway Hall (Grainger; Berners); April 1976, Kingsway Hall (Harty); Sept 1978, Watford Town Hall (Warlock); Jan 1968, Walthamstow Assembly Hall (RVW)
LYRITA SRCD336 [72.15]

This is one of a pair of Lyrita miscellanies issued in November 2007. Lyrita always had a place in its heart for eccentric collections of ‘oddfellows’ and ‘evenfellows’. It started in the 1970s and continues to the present day.
This collection starts with the Offenbach-gleeful Galop from The Bohemian Girl by Balfe. Here is a composer enjoying some well deserved attention now with books, recordings and revivals. The real obstacle to revival is the cost of producing his operas even semi-professionally. Andrew Davis then gives us a smoothly romantic and undemonstrative reading of Dorabella from Elgar's Enigma followed by a stately quick-tempo P&C No. 5. We then track back to a recording which appeared on one of the original Lyrita Lollipop collections in the 1970s.

It is a rather special and gorgeously relished reading by Myer Fredman of Delius’s Walk to the Paradise Garden. He is a fine conductor who has had less celebrity than his perceptive readings have merited. He leads us through the walk and finds time to touch in, without undue emphasis, the often tragically coloured bass-line. The whole thing has a pervasive air of satiated lassitude. To blow away the cobwebs in strides Grainger's chuckle-headed Shepherd's Hey. After this example of bluffly romping brilliance Grainger shows his sensitive side with The Immovable Do which here, I am afraid, proves suet-stodgy.

Vernon Handley polishes Harty's The Fair Day until it fair gleams with emerald iridescence in the Irish sun. Nicholas Braithwaite turns in a grand and often Purcell-sombre Capriol in the rare version for full orchestra. The Tordion and Bransles trip along lightly before a rather treacly Pieds en l'air. I am not at all sure that this piece does not work better with strings alone. On the other hand the ‘gamey’ harmonies of the woodwind in Mattachins are something to relish here. One last spin before the serious stuff. Berners' Hornpipe from The Triumph of Neptune is very distinctive if not endearing.

Imogen Holst directs the ECO in the St Paul's Suite in a taut and spry reading. Has the Ostinato ever sounded as dainty and finely pointed? The oriental element which I noticed in a recent issue of the same piece does not project as vividly as in other versions here in the notably strange Intermezzo. The strings section theme carries over from Holst to Holst's close friend Vaughan Williams in his Tallis Fantasia. When first issued this was on an LP also including Boult conducting the LPO in Rubbra Symphony No. 7. It was an aptly sober coupling for a sober symphony. Boult's very English buttoned-up way with Tallis has dignity and terrific grandeur but lacks the many coloured splendour and passion of the Barbirolli or Silvestri versions. On the other hand the string phrases have a very satisfying bite and mordancy which softer-focused approaches lack.
Moving from nineteenth century ebullience to a sombre spiritual exaltation. This is a collection which no doubt mops up the oddments after other more substantial composer-themed collections. It’s good that so many tapes from the Lyrita treasury are being issued in this way. Otherwise they might remain beached for ever. This disc has intrinsic satisfactions and these are well buttressed by Fred Tomlinson, Imogen Holst and Lewis Foreman in their encyclopaedic liner notes. Good to see also that Lyrita are striving hard to include discographical information.
Some of these pieces here (Balfe and Grainger) appeared on that rare Lyrita-Quad CD issued circa 1994 before the long silence and a few others will be familiar from composer-themed collections issued as part of the label’s renaissance via Wyastone Estates.
Rob Barnett

Lyrita Catalogue


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