Elgar, Kelly, Gurney, Parry, Elkington

COMPOSERS: Elgar,Elkington,Gurney,Kelly,Parry
LABELS: Dutton
ALBUM TITLE: Spirit of England
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Andrew
Kennedy (tenor); BBC Symphony Chorus
& Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7172
This is a very remarkable collection

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of music inspired by the waste and

futility of the First World War. If Elgar’s Spirit of England is the

major and most familiar item

(though in an unfamiliar form,

with two vocal soloists rather than

one), every piece here (the rest of

them virtually or totally unknown)

deserves more frequent hearing.

There’s Parry’s noble, darkly surging

Chivalry of the Sea in memory of the

sailors killed, drowned or vapourized

at Jutland. There’s a painfully,

intensely lyrical string-orchestra

Elegy ‘In Memoriam Rupert Brooke’

by FS Kelly, who was killed on

the Somme in 1916 but was in the

burial party that laid Brooke to rest

on Skyros in 1915. Ivor Gurney’s

War Elegy was composed during

the early stages of his post-war

manic-depressive illness and has

been rescued by dedicated editorial

work: richly Elgarian with a searing

climax. The score and parts of Lilian

Elkington’s profoundly affecting

Out of the Mist were discovered in a

Worthing bookshop in the 1980s:

she was a Bantock pupil who gave

up composition when she married

(a sadly familiar story). It evokes

the ship bearing the Unknown

Warrior’s body arriving at Dover in

November 1920 and is so strong it

ought to be on the programme of at

least one Remembrance Day concert

somewhere in the land, every year.

The only competition is in

the Elgar (the ever-dependable

Richard Hickox on EMI), but I urge

prospective buyers to try this disc

instead. Passionately performed,

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it makes a vital act of restitution.