Previously released in 1993 and 1997, this double disc of late-late-late-Romantic works by neglected British composers Patrick Hadley and Philip Sainton may be the fairest presentation they have received: the generous, evenly balanced program represents their music well, and the fully engaged performances by Matthias Bamert and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus almost persuade one that there is something worthwhile in these faded flowers of English gentility. Yet the mixture of serene, melancholy folk tunes and wafting Impressionistic scene-painting is an overly familiar blend, done better by the likes of Vaughan Williams, Holst, and Delius, but done to death by the time Hadley and Sainton rose to modest fame. Sainton's purely orchestral The Island, Nadir, and The Dream of the Marionette are expansively conceived and evocative in their luscious sonorities, but ultimately forgettable for their washes of sound and melodic vagueness. Hadley's works for voices and orchestra, The Trees So High, La Belle Dame sans merci, and Lenten Meditations, are easier to appreciate because the vocal parts provide a focal point and the text settings are competent. Yet even though these works are memorably sung by tenor Neill Archer, baritone David Wilson-Johnson, and bass Stephen Richardson, the gushing orchestral passages go on for long, tedious stretches, and striking themes are few and far between. The sound quality is good overall, but somewhat indistinct.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
|The Trees So High, symphonic ballad for baritone, chorus & orchestra in A minor|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|The Dream of the Marionette, ballet|
|Lenten Meditations, cantata for soloists, choir & orchestra|