'Made in Britain'
We have already heard John Wilson as a passionate exponent of English music directing a splendid new collection of John Ireland’s music, centring on the beautiful Piano Concerto (see page 61). Here he is, again with the RLPO and equally in his element, in a well-chosen programme of English orchestral miniatures very well recorded. He opens with Walton’s portrait of the commedia dell’arte character Scapino, full of gusto yet bringing out tenderly the contrasting romantic episodes that fill out the character. Butterworth’s two English Idylls are uniquely evocative of the English countryside, while Delius’s sensuously romantic Walk to the Paradise Garden and Bax’s lushly scored The Happy Forest are made glowingly radiant in John Wilson’s richly textured evocations.
Elgar’s more traditional, less sultry Salut d’amour is played here with delicacy. It is good that Edward German was not left out of the programme, for his colourful, even rumbustious Nell Gwynn Overture engagingly introduces ‘Early one morning’ as a centrepiece. Vaughan Williams’s jolly English Folk Song Suite was written for military band but is heard here in Gordon Jacob’s exuberant orchestral transcription. Iona Brown once said that the closing pianissimo of The Lark Ascending is one of the hardest solo violin passages to bring off with a perfect blend of poetry and control. Certainly the violinist here, James Clark, does so expertly and movingly, after picturing the lark flying freely above with wonderful delicacy.