Elgar Romance

Penguin CD Guide 2001

English Idyll

‘English idyll’ (with ASMF, Neville Marriner):

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Romanza. ELGAR: Romance in D min.. Op. 62; Une idylle, Op. 4/1.

Discs: 2 Pieces for cello and chamber orchestra. GRAINGER: Youthful rapture; Brigg Fair (arrangement).

DYSON: Fantasy. IRELAND: The holy boy. WALFORD DAVIES: Solemn melody.

Holst: Invocation, Op. 19/2. Cyril Scott: Pastoral and reel.

The highlights of Julian Lloyd Webber’s programme of English concertante miniatures are the Holst Invocation, with its nocturnal mood sensitively caught, and George Dyson’s Fantasy, where the playing readily captures Christopher Palmer’s description: ‘exquisitely summery and sunny — its chattering moto perpetuo evokes images of bees and butterflies’. Grainger’s passionate Youthful raptlure is given just the right degree of ardent espressivo, as are Delius’s warmly flowing Caprice and Elegy, written (during the composer’s last Fenby period) for Beatrice Harrison.

The two transcriptions, Vaughan Williams’s Romanza (originally part of the Tuba concerto) and the Elgar Romance, conceived with the bassoon in mind, were both arranged for the cello by their respective composers and are effective enough in their string formats, although by no means superseding the originals. However, Lloyd Webber gives the full romantic treatment both to John Ireland’s simple tone-picture, The holy boy, and to Grainger’s arrangement of Brigg Fair, to which not all will respond. For the closing Cyril Scoff Pastoral and reel (with its telling drone effect) he returns to a more direct style, with pleasing results. Sympathetic accompaniments and warm, atmospheric recording.