On this disc, Premieres & Encores, Lyrita includes works by six composers, two of which, Peter Warlock and Malcolm Arnold, are well known beyond the British Isles. The remainder, Alan Rawsthorne, Henry Hugo Pierson, David Morgan, and Francis Chagrin, will be known to only the most dedicated members of the British serious music audience.
As might be imagined in such a hodgepodge of composers, the music is of variable quality. On the one hand, Rawsthorne's Fantasy Overture. Cortège, is darkly brilliant and propulsively driven; Warlock's Serenade is sweetly sensual and slightly melancholy; and Arnold's Comedy Overture. Beckus the Dandipratt, is witty and colorful. On the other hand, Morgan's Contrasts are two movements of modernist clichés: edgy attacks, raw colors, ragged textures, and insistent rhythms; Chagrin's Concert Overture. Helter Skelter is a breezy, postwar confection decorated with snappy tunes, catchy rhythms, and percussion-dominated textures; and Pierson's Macbeth symphonic poem is Mendelssohn missing his magic and Schumann shorn of his poetry. In these uniformly excellent performances by Barry Wordsworth, Vernon Handley, John Pritchard, and the redoubtable Nicholas Braithwaite, however, every work gets the deluxe treatment. As always, Lyrita's sound is clean, colorful, and deep.