Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Adrian Boult
Composer: George Butterworth, Peter Warlock, Patrick Hadley, Herbert Howells
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Size: 285 MB
1. Two English Idylls, No. 1
2. Two English Idylls, No. 2
3. The Banks of Green Willow
4. A ‘Shrophire Lad’ Rhapsody
5. An Old Song
for small orchestra
6. One Morning in Spring Rhapsody
for small orchestra
for viola, string quartet and string orchestra
Music for a Prince
10. Corydon’s Dance
11. Scherzo in Arden
desert island British classics from Lyrita
For those who haven’t explored 20th century English music, I cannot think of a better introduction than this outstanding disc. It opens with crushingly beautiful treatments of four short works by George Butterworth: two Idylls, The Banks of Green Willow and A Shropshire Lad, and continues with a variety of substantial works by Warlock, Hadley and Howells which fit together very nicely.
Who could listen to The Banks of Green Willows and A Shropshire Lad and not be transported to another dimension of pure enchantment? The interesting liner notes point out that Adrian Boult knew Butterworth and attended the Leeds premiere of A Shropshire Lad, under the baton of Nikisch, in 1913. With that kind of connection it’s no wonder that Boult turns in such an inspired performance. It was a great tragedy that George Butterworth, one of the most promising of Britain’s 20th century composers, did not live to thirty, a victim of the Great War.
I’m very familiar with most of the music on this outstanding recording, having purchased it over thirty years ago when it was issued on the Musical Heritage Society and HNH labels. At the time, MHS was a courageous pioneer in licensing Lyrita’s recordings of British composers, most of whom were largely unknown to Americans. The list included Bax, Moeran, Butterworth, Rubbra, Bridge, Rawsthorne, Ireland, Bliss and so on. Although Adrian Boult’s recordings of Vaughan Williams had made some headway here, and certainly Britten and Walton were very well-known, most classical enthusiasts were still most familiar with The Planets when it came to modern British music.
When the LP era faded away, the great Lyrita recordings, most of which were and still are definitive, disappeared. Now, thanks apparently to new ownership, Lyrita is back and their classic catalog of recordings is gradually being reissued on compact disc.
Finally, it was good to see this disc get a top recommendation from Classics Today, which wrote “Adrian Boult lives up to his reputation as a master of British music in these idiomatic, authoritative, and engaging performances – qualities that sustain throughout the various recording sessions with both the London Philharmonic and New Philharmonia orchestras. Lyrita’s 1970s analog productions reproduce with warmth and fullness in these remasterings. An excellent disc, with strong appeal for anglophiles and neophytes alike.”
Very highly recommended!