British String Miniatures Vol 2
Producer Philip Lane’s imaginative collections of British string miniatures continue to provide attractive additions to the recorded repertory. As in ‘British String Miniatures 1’, this latest offering combines familiar and unfamiliar, old and new. Bliss made his arrangements of some of Purcell’s theatre music in 1923 and recorded the suite in 1960. The Delius, Elgar and Warlock items have had various recordings over the years and are perhaps the most obvious attractions to entice purchasers to this collection. Warlock’s tender tribute for Delius’s 60th birthday comes across with especial power.
Much of the interest, though, must inevitably lie in the three suites by living composers, which occupy more than half the CD’s duration. Philip Lane’s Serenata Concertante is perhaps the most ambitious in concept, pitting string quartet against the main body of strings in the manner of an 18th-century concerto grosso. Probably the most approachable is Gareth Glyn’s new suite of Anglesey Sketches, providing contrasted portraits of coastal points of the island on which he now lives. They include a lively scherzo depicting donkey-rides on the beach at Cernaes, and a moving final elegy in memory of the many lives lost in shipwrecks near Moelfre. In this last, there is eloquent and rewarding material for cello, as also in the long, reflective elegy that forms the pivotal movement of Matthew Curtis’s three-movement Serenade.
As usual, Gavin Sutherland and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia constitute a winning team, coping with sometimes tricky rhythms with typical finesse.