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John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Concertino Pastorale for string orchestra (1939) [19:40]
The Holy Boy (A Carol of the Nativity) (1913) for string orchestra (1941) [2:30]
A Downland Suite for string orchestra (1932) [8:50]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)

Rosemary (No. 1 of two Entractes) (1906) [3:26]
Suite for string orchestra (1910) [20:52]
Sally in our Alley (No. 1 of Two Old English Songs) (1916) [3:29]
Cherry Ripe (No. 2 of Two Old English Songs) (1916) [3:11]
Lament for string orchestra (1915) [3:35]
Sir Roger de Coverley, Christmas Dance (1922) [4:25]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. 1966 and 1978 ADD
LYRITA SRCD.242 [70.02]



Boult at the helm of the Rodney Friend-led LPO in British music – that spells invariable ascendancy. Add to it Lyrita’s remarkable facility with balance and engineering and their no less special remastering and reissuing package and you have a corpus of recordings that will not date. Whether the programme appeals depends on your enthusiasm for Bridge’s lighter style and for the Ireland Concertino Pastorale, though a look at the head note will show that there’s an enviable variety to it and something for all tastes.
 
The Concertino Pastorale is a lovely work but don’t be fooled by its title. It opens with a toughly angular introduction that might surprise those not used to the idiom but not those for whom Ireland’s wartime works (both wars) demonstrate toughness and grit. Boult shapes the pastoral material with great refinement but absolutely no indulgence, something he did with the music of his contemporary George Butterworth in performances also to be heard in the slew of Boult-Lyrita reissues. The Threnody is actually more obviously lyric than the superscription might have one believe; the reserved nobility of utterance brought to it by Boult is perfectly gauged. And the shifting accents of the finale are full of verve and dynamism. The historically minded would doubtless wish that the dedicatee, Boyd Neel, had recorded it with his eponymous orchestra but Boult, heard in superb 1966 sound, more than makes amends for that loss. Ireland transcribed two movements of The Downland Suite for piano and also for string orchestra. It’s hard to resist the folk-like and baroque hues in this performance and in particular the warmly reflective Elegy.
 
The selection of music by Frank Bridge is essentially lighter music. He half quotes All Through the Night in Rosemary a delightful miniature played with suitably disarmingly simplicity here. The Suite for string orchestra is memorably tuneful and delightfully orchestrated though interestingly its Nocturne is more of a Threnody than Ireland’s own in the Concertino. Note the care over dynamics and the influence of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. The finale is a bustly, bold and vibrant English affair. Sally in our Alley and Cherry Ripe are richly characterised. 
 
The Lament is a 1915 elegy, touchingly intense, for “Catherine, aged nine” who died in the sinking of the Lusitania. And then we have Sir Roger de Coverley which Boult dishes up with very considerable verve, slashing through the counter themes with brilliant vim.
 
Top marks for this compilation; idiomatic conducting, music of sensitivity and rustic abandon, accustomed excellence as regards recording and remastering; and good notes as ever from this source.
 
Jonathan Woolf

see also reviews by Rob Barnett and John Quinn



 


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