The insightful liner notes by Andrew Burn that accompany the exquisitely curated and played CHANDOS release MUSIC FOR STRINGS helped shed much light on a repertory largely unknown to me. Yes, I have heard many times and immensely enjoyed Ralph Vaughan Williams 1910 single-movement gem Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, with its exuberant late Romantic response to the music of the English Renaissance master Thomas Tallis.

But as regards Herbert Howells 1938 Concerto for String Orchestra, a compelling work that with its energetic opening Allegro boldly announces its presence in the first opening bars, neither the composition nor its composer was familiar to me.

Frederick Delius Late Swallows, a moving pean to nature, as so much of Delius’ oeuvre is, offers a gentle single-movement work that bears a salute to the swallows that visited time and again the composer’s villa in France during the war years.

Sir Edward Elgar’s 1901 Introduction and Allegro in three continuous movements for String Quartet and String Orchestra – the earliest and most dramatic of the works in the album – proves its author, along with Vaughan Williams, as the most accomplished of post-Romantic English composers.

John Wilson leads the all-strings Sinfonia of London in memorable readings of four works by four significant English composers, giving John Mills violin, Michael Trainor violin, Andriy Viytovych viola, and Richard Harwood cello outstanding solo opportunities in a treasurable recording.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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