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British Piano Concertos 
rec. various locations 1970s-1990s. ADD/DDD
Contents list at end of review
LYRITA RECORDED EDITION SRCD2345 [4 CDs: 305:00]
 
British String Concertos
rec. various locations 1970s-1990s. ADD/DDD
Contents list at end of review
LYRITA RECORDED EDITION SRCD2346 [4 CDs: 306:00] 

Since the mid-2000s Wyastone Estate Limited have been the holders of an exclusive licence for the recordings of Lyrita Recorded Edition. The result has been the release of some 100+ CDs setting out the whole of the analogue and early digital inheritance of this British music label. Over a period of some three years Wyastone liberated the Lyrita catalogue from vinyl purgatory. MusicWeb International has reviewed each of the resulting CDs.
 
These two boxed sets offer up no new recordings. Instead they reassemble largely analogue material from existing Lyrita CDs under a new generic grouping and issue them in two separately available packages. Links to the reviews of the discs from which these concertos come can be accessed through the page links detailed in the contents listings at the end of this review.
 
The titles of each box are not be taken entirely literally. British? That's a given, but not all of the works included were designated as concertos by their composers. Bridge, Finzi, Foulds, Moeran, Scott, Ireland, Holst, Rubbra and Hoddinott are represented by pieces that are not concertos but they are for solo instrument and orchestra: piano in the case of SRCD2345 and violin or cello in the case of SRCD2346.
 
The two concerto boxes feature cover photographs in colour of British pastoral scenes. The design is faithful to the Lyrita style sheet and is pretty good-looking. Heaven help us, the miniature essays on each work are printed in a legible font, black on white. Some other designers please take note!
 
Dates and locations of recording sessions are not given. Lyrita seem always to have been reticent about those details. Such as we know can be found in our reviews of the original issues, links to which appear in the contents list below. The sound is a model of its kind - Lyrita were always able to boast glorious sound except in the case of their brittle mono recordings of solo piano music none of which are to be found in these sets.
 
The freshly written liner-notes are by the authoritative and accessible Paul Conway and run to ten pages in each case. These are not a simple retread of the original notes by other authors.
 
Don't write Lyrita off as pedlars of English green-field slosh. There is provocative variety to be found in each of these issues.
 
The Piano Concerto box serves up Stanford's least neglected piano concerto which is both Brahmsian and yet has a dash of Rachmaninov about it. The Finzi Eclogue is a peaceful spiritual essay - it causes no offence and imparts a blessing as it passes. The Foulds and Bridge pieces are not concertos. The former is a fantastic display of brilliance of imagination and technique while the Bridge parallels his own Oration - which is not included in these sets - in its tension and bleak expressive power. It does have its heroics but they are bitter indeed. The Vaughan Williams concerto recalls the world of his Fourth Symphony while the Rawsthorne is softer and more yielding than we may be accustomed to from this source. The Scott Poem, with its roundabout convolutions and folksong game-play, contrasts with the Busch Piano Concerto. Ireland's Legend is another Sussex ancient sorcery, quite different in its subtlety to the crowd-pleasing romantic heroics of the Moeran Rhapsody, which plants its confident feet in 1940s film piano concerto pastures; it’s very enjoyable. The last disc lets us hear again three piano concertos: early, accessible and not fully characteristic in the case of the Hoddinott and Berkeley; and fully mature in the case of Williamson’s joyously clangourous and angular Third Piano Concerto.
 
As for the String Concertos these range far and wide. The Coleridge-Taylor is a treasure - full of DvořŠkian melody and incident. The Holst Invocation is almost as moody as the Rubbra Soliloquy, the dark-clouded atmosphere of which you could cut with a machete. Finzi's Introit was salvaged from a disowned Violin Concerto - you can hear the whole thing on Chandos - and it's the best thing in it by a long chalk. The two Holst works are from his appealingly chattery neo-classical years although the lovely Lyric Movement for viola has a yearning core. Busch's Cello Concerto is from the other half of the CD that yielded the Piano Concerto on SRCD2345. The Moeran Violin Concerto has been following me around this year. I have heard it three times live and several times recorded. Its touching slow-fast-slow movement scheme is most adroitly handled by Georgiadis and Handley in what was the work's first commercial recording from circa 1979. CDs 3 and 4 require stiffened sinews for the modernistic Violin Concertos by Gerhard, Fricker, Morgan and Banks. Even the Serenata Concertante for violin and orchestra by Maconchy will not let you off the hook lightly. We end with a roar and a flourish in Hoddinott's typically titled and expressed Nocturnes and Cadenzas for cello and orchestra from 1969.
 
These two sets form companions to two similarly conceived and executed 4-CD Lyrita boxed editions issued in 2009 to mark Lyrita's fiftieth anniversary, which were issued in the same type of double-width jewel cases (review). Those two sampled shorter orchestral works from the Lyrita strong room and there is some overlap with SRCD2345 and SCD2346. The only duplication across the two pairs of sets was of Scott's Early One Morning, Finzi's Eclogue and one movement of the Busch Cello Concerto.
 
Generosity is the order of the day with the present two boxes. No CD plays for less than 72:00 while one plays for 79:10. The price point is attractive and may well make these suitable for the intrepid and open-minded soul as Christmas presents, if the original CDs are not already on the intended receivers' shelves.
 
Rob Barnett
 
Contents lists (& links to original reviews)
 
BRITISH PIANO CONCERTOS 
 
CD 1 [77.20]
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD
Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor Op.126 [37.30]
Malcolm Binns (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra
Gerald FINZI
Eclogue for piano and string orchestra Op.10 [10.33]
Peter Katin (piano)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Vernon Handley
John FOULDS
Dynamic Triptych for Piano and Orchestra Op.88 [29.14]
Howard Shelley (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
 
CD 2 [75.23]
Frank BRIDGE
Phantasm – Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra [27.24]
Peter Wallfisch (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Piano Concerto in C [27.42]
Howard Shelley (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Alan RAWSTHORNE
Piano Concerto No.1 [20.12]
Malcolm Binns (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
 
CD 3 [75.12]
Cyril SCOTT
Early One Morning – Poem for Piano and Orchestra [14.48]
John Ogdon (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Herrmann
John IRELAND
Legend for Piano and Orchestra [12.44]
Eric Parkin (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
William BUSCH
Piano Concerto [28.22]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
E J MOERAN
Rhapsody in F sharp for Piano and Orchestra [19.15]
John McCabe (piano)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
 
CD 4 [77.34]
Lennox BERKELEY
Piano Concerto in B flat Op.29 [26.11]
David Wilde (piano)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Alun HODDINOTT
Piano Concerto No.1 Op.19 [19.50]
Philip Fowke (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
Malcolm WILLIAMSON
Piano Concerto No.3 in E flat ** (1962) [32:19]
Malcolm Williamson (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Dommett
 
 
 
BRITISH STRING CONCERTOS SRCD2346 4 CDs
 
CD 1 [76.48]
Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR
Violin Concerto in G minor Op.80 [32.54]
Lorraine McAslan (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Gustav HOLST
Invocation Op.19 No.2 for cello and orchestra [9.43]
Alexander Baillie (cello)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Atherton
Gerald FINZI
Introit for small orchestra and solo violin Op.6 [9.50]
Rodney Friend (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
Gustav HOLST
Double Concerto for two violins and orchestra Op.49 [14.27]
Emmanuel Hurwitz and Kenneth Sillito (violins)
English Chamber Orchestra/Imogen Holst
Gustav HOLST
Lyric Movement for Viola and small orchestra [9.54]
Cecil Aronowitz (viola)
English Chamber Orchestra/Imogen Holst
 
CD 2 [73.22]
William BUSCH
Cello Concerto [23.28]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
E J MOERAN
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra [34.44]
John Georgiadis (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Edmund RUBBRA
Soliloquy for Cello and Orchestra Op.57 [15.06]
Rohan de Saram (cello)
London Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley
 
CD 3 [79.10]
Roberto GERHARD
Violin Concerto [23.28]
Yfrah Neaman (violin)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis
Peter Racine FRICKER
Concerto for Violin and small orchestra Op.11 [23.17]
Yfrah Neaman (violin)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Norman del Mar
Elizabeth MACONCHY
Serenata Concertante for Violin and orchestra [21.38]
Manoug Parikan (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley
 
CD 4 [73.44]
David MORGAN
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra [25.46]
Erich Gruenberg (violin)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Don BANKS
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra [26.54]
Yfrah Neaman (violin)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Normal del Mar
Alun HODDINOTT
Nocturnes and Cadenzas for Cello and Orchestra Op.62 (1969) [21.01]
Moray Welsh (cello)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves