Murrill, Dyson, Rubbra & Haydn Wood

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Dyson,Murrill,Rubbra & Haydn Wood
LABELS: White Line
ALBUM TITLE: Song of the Birds
WORKS: English Cello Music: works by Murrill, Dyson, Rubbra & Haydn Wood
PERFORMER: Raphael Wallfisch (cello); BBC Concert Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Though Herbert Murrill and Haydn Wood had some form as light-music composers, it’s rather perverse that this CD should bear the strapline ‘British Light Music’. None of these pieces is anything less than a thoughtful, serious addition to the not-especially-large repertoire of British works for cello and orchestra. Indeed Murrill’s compact, single-movement Concerto, premiered in 1951 when he was director of BBC Music but had only a year to live, may well be the real discovery here. Dedicated to Casals and incorporating the Song of the Birds which he had made famous the world over, it ranges from neo-Bachian solo writing (a homage in itself), through plangent Waltonian sixths to brief impetuous ardour as it contrives to define itself very effectively. George Dyson’s Prelude, Fantasy and Chaconne, also a premiere recording at least in this full orchestral version, seems of less consequence despite all its craft. But Rubbra’s eloquent Soliloquy, probably the only work here which will be at all familiar, is a searching, deeply expressive utterance, and Haydn Wood’s opulent Philharmonic Variations, a kind of latter-day Rococo Variations, is well worth hearing. Raphael Wallfisch is the ideal interpreter for such repertoire, his warm, singing tone deployed with instinctive sympathy and understanding, ably abetted by Vernon Handley, who is of course in his element. Quite a valuable disc for aficionados of British music. Calum MacDonald