PETER CROSSLEY-HOLLAND: Symphony in D; EUGENE GOOSSENS: Variations on ‘Cadet Rousselle’; JOHN IRELAND: Merry Andrew; Bagatelle; Cavatina; Elegiac Meditation; The Holy Boy; Two Salon Pieces: Menuetto-Impromptu, Villanella – Justine Watts, violin/ Lorraine McAslan, violin/ Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Martin Yates – Dutton 7215, 72:03 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
Dutton continues its long line of British music performed by the indomitable Martin Yates. When all is said and done, I doubt any other label will be able to boast such an impressive collection of esoteric and in-need-of-illumination English music, much of it very unfortunately passed over by time and the general public.
This issue is a compendium of three composers, only one really well-known. Peter Crossley-Holland (1916-2001) was a noted musicologist in his day, penning many important articles for publications like the Grove Dictionary and many others. This symphony, composed between the years of 1988-94, being a late work, is supposedly a summation of his art even though the four movements are rather disparate in origin and were not intended to be put into a symphony. Exotic elements abound that are reflective of the composer’s interests, and the work as a whole has that typical English feel to it, yet without the genius that we find present in so many of the other British pastoralists. I enjoyed it very much, but can’t say that it sticks in the memory.
The Variations by famous conductor Eugene Goossens are actually not by him at all, but instead a collaborative effort suggested by critic and advisor to publisher J&W Chester Edwin Evans. The composers involved are (in order of the variations) Bridge, Bax, Bridge, Ireland, Bax, Bridge, Goossens, and Bax. It is a nice piece based on the French folk song “Cadet Rousselle’, and is almost too short to be a variations work at all (3:18).
The rest of the album contains arranged works by John Ireland, arrangements done by other people of several of his miscellaneous music like violin sonatas, organ pieces, and piano works. They are all nicely done with substance and melodic appeal, nothing you would walk ten miles to hear, but relaxing and refreshing if you’re tired on your feet and want a half-hour of putting the world behind you. Sound, as on all of these releases, is vibrant and spacious.
— Steven Ritter