This Lyrita release coupling Adrian Boult and the London Philharmonic's classic 1966 and 1978 recordings of the string orchestra music of John Ireland and Frank Bridge is as lovely a disc of English music as there has ever been. The two big works here -- Ireland's three-movement Concertino Pastorale from 1939 and Bridge's four-movement Suite from 1910 -- are superbly crafted, sonorously scored, and ardently expressive, and the shorter works are even more affecting. Ireland's 1941 arrangement of his hugely popular 1913 piano piece The Holy Boy (A Carol of the Nativity) is the essence of spiritual sentimentality, and his 1941 arrangement of the Elegy from his 1932 A Dowland Suite for brass captures the composer's special brand of reserved yet ravishing lyricism. Special mention should also be made of Bridge's Rosemary, an arrangement of the second of his Three Sketches for solo piano from 1906. Unlike the rest of his music, it is highly chromatic and deeply sensual, and it is the only work on the program scored for a small orchestra including winds, brass, and timpani, as well as strings. Boult and the London Philharmonic are in top form with a strong tone, a rich blend, and a powerful sense of rhythm. And as always, Lyrita's stereo sound is clear, warm, and honest.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Concertino Pastorale (Threnody), for string orchestra|
|A Downland Suite, arrangement for orchestra (completed by G. Bush)|
|Suite for string orchestra, H 93|
|Old English Songs (2), for string orchestra, H 119|