This recording was sponsored by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, and one can readily understand why. Whether it's Erik Chisholm's Symphony No. 2, Trevor Hold's The Unreturning Spring, or Eric Fogg's Sea-Sheen or Merok (named after a town on a fjord in Norway), the music here is beautiful, unrelentingly conservative, and very English, just like Vaughan Williams himself. Chisholm's Symphony No. 2, subtitled "Ossian," was written in 1939, and it is clearly a product of its time: angry, epic, and eminently tonal. Hold's The Unreturning Spring, a song cycle for soprano, baritone, and orchestra, was written between 1961 and 1963, and it is emphatically not a product of its time: pleasant, provincial, and thoroughly enjoyable. And Fogg's two orchestral tone poems were written in 1920 and 1929, and both are manifestly of an earlier time: bucolic, blissful, and entirely lovely. Superbly played here by the BBC Concert Orchestra under the direction of Martin Yates (in the Chisholm and the Hold works), Gavin Sutherland (in Sea-Sheen), and Vernon Handley (in Merok), each of these works receives its world-premiere recording on this 2007 Dutton disc. Whether they will achieve a wider life only time will tell, but surely no better introduction to these forgotten composers can be imagined. Dutton's digital sound is clear and colorful, if perhaps a bit too cool for some tastes.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 2 ("Ossian")|
|The Unreturning Spring, song cycle to poems by James Farrar|