Bridge, Elgar, Haydn Wood, Ireland, Warlock, etc

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bridge,Elgar,etc,Haydn Wood,Ireland,Warlock
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: English String Miniatures, Vol. 2
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: English Northern Philharmonia/David Lloyd-Jones
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555068
Miniatures is very much the word. None of this music plumbs the depths or scales the heights of Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia, Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge or Tippett’s Double Concerto and Corelli Fantasia – unless you count Elgar’s brief elegy Sospiri, which in this performance sounds unusually sombre and heartfelt. And then there’s Peter Warlock’s exquisite Serenade for the 60th Birthday of Frederick Delius, which somehow manages to distil the best of the pastoral Delius while neatly dodging most of his weaknesses. On the whole though, the emphasis is on sweet melody, comfortable intimacy and wistful elegance, heard at its best in endearing bon-bons like Bridge’s Sally in our Alley and Sir Roger de Coverley. And yet David Lloyd-Jones and the English Northern Philharmonia sound less at home in this kind of repertoire. Lyrical charm and the light laugh don’t seem to come as easily as the melancholy of Sospiri or the chaste sadness of Ireland’s The Holy Boy. There’s also a slight edginess in the string tone – don’t expect the veneer of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in its glory days. Whether that’s down to the playing or the recording I can’t quite tell. Whatever, ultimately this disc isn’t quite as enjoyable as it ought to be. Stephen Johnson