For fans of English modernist John Ireland, this disc will be a mixed blessing. While all the performances here are excellent -- with the magisterial Adrian Boult conducting, anything else is unimaginable -- and most of the music is superb -- with the evocative Legend and the masterful Piano Concerto included, anything else is unthinkable -- some of the music is fairly close to terrible -- with the banal These Things Shall Be included, anything else is unfair. Still, with the dedicated Boult on the podium, the committed London Philharmonic in the pit, and the brilliant Eric Parkin at the keyboard, the Legend and the Piano Concerto receive performances of unparalleled magnificence, as do the witty Satyricon Overture and the strenuously contrapuntal Two Symphonic Studies from the score to The Overlanders arranged by Geoffrey Bush. Only in the bombastic and bathetic choral-orchestral These Things Shall Be, a 1937 spasm of misplaced pre-war optimism from the normally pessimistic composer, do the performers' best efforts fail to make the music convincing. But for Ireland's fans, this will only diminish the conspicuous merits of the remainder of the disc, particularly as the performances were recorded in clear, deep, and honest stereo by the superlative Lyrita label.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Piano Concerto in E flat major|
|These Things Shall Be, for baritone, chorus & orchestra|
|Symphonic Studies (2), music from "The Overlanders" arr. by Geoffrey Bush for orchestra|