Featuring the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields Orchestra, conducted by Neville Marriner, this 1976 box-set features five composers - Benjamin Britten ; Edward Elgar ; Ralph Vaughan-Williams ; George Butterworth and Michael Tippett - who are all typical of the waves of revival in English classical music, that came during or after the impetus, first given by Elgar, in the late 19C.
The first composer featured, on Side One, is George Butterworth, born in 1885. Among his contemporaries, influences, and friends, were Vaughan Williams himself, and also Sir Hugh Allen. Tragically, Butterworth's immense potential was cut violently short, for he was killed in action, on the Somme, in 1916.
Disc One, Side One : George Butterworth :-
1) A Shropshire Lad 2) The Banks of Green Willow 3) Two English Idylls
Benjamin Britten's work, "Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge", is dedicated to the composer's principal mentor in his formative years, and a man for whom he always felt abiding loyalty. The "Theme" comes from Bridge's second "Idyll" for string quartet.
Disc One, Side Two : Benjamin Britten :-
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge , Op.10
Disc Two consists of Elgar pieces ; "Intro and Allegro in G minor and major" is one of Elgar's fine violin works, taking inspiration from Handel's "concerti grossi", among others. "Sospiri for Strings, Harp and Organ" was composed in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War and it was perhaps the gathering stormclouds of war that moved him to write a heartfelt, bleak adagio that would not be out of place as the slow movement of one of his symphonies.
Disc Two, Side One : Edward Elgar :-
1) Introduction and Allegro in G minor and Major Op.47 2) Sospiri for Strings, Harp and Organ Op.70
Side Two's "Serenade in E minor for Strings" was an early work that Elgar held dear, possibly because his wife, Braut helped so much in its composition, while "Elegy for Strings" was composed for a memorial service in 1909.
"Suite from The Spanish Lady" is one of the fragments left over, from an Elgar opera, that the composer worked on during his last year.
Disc Two, Side Two : Edward Elgar :-
1) Serenade in E minor for Strings Op.20 2) Elegy for Strings Op.58 3) Suite from The Spanish Lady
Michael Tippett's "Concerto for Double String Orchestra" was composed in 1938/39, and is a key work in his output, his first fully formed masterpiece, establishing techniques and modes of feeling which were to serve him for some time.
Disc Three, Side One : Michael Tippett :-
Concerto for Double String Orchestra
Tippett's second period featured a prominent neo-classic vein, and one of the works yielded, was the radiantly lyrical "Fantasia Concertante" of 1953, composed in response to an Edinburgh Festival commission for the tercentenary of Corelli's birth.
Disc Three, Side Two : Michael Tippett :-
1) Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli 2) Little Music for String Orchestra
The Ralph Vaughan Williams 1910 piece, "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" is held most significant, by many critics and observers of classical music, for its role in severing the close ties which, until then, had bound English and German music. The work "Fantasia on Greensleeves" first appeared in Vaughan Williams' opera "Sir John in Love".
Disc Four, Side One : Ralph Vaughan Williams :-
1) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis 2) Fantasia on Greensleeves
"The Lark Ascending" is an effortlessly flowing, yet subtle and highly concentrated piece. "Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'" was composed for the New York World Fair of 1939.
Disc Four, Side Two : Ralph Vaughan Williams :-
1) The Lark Ascending 2) Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'
Discs One and Three are in EX condition.
Discs Two and Four are in EX+ condition.
Booklet is in EX condition.
Box in EX condition.