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Here’s an enterprising programme – all world premiere recordings – though an odd one. The highlight for IP readers will be the 20-minute D minor Concerto by Dorothy Howell (1898-1982), a now neglected composer whose Bax/Bridge-like tone poem Lamia was nevertheless highly regarded by Sir Henry Wood. Howell’s orchestration is superb and her piano writing brilliant. Seferinova plays with authority, though the public performance recording catches some audience noise. The Orion Symphony Orchestra accompanies capably, if not always together with the soloist.

Cyril Scott retained his basically lush style despite the neo-classic potential of the harpsichord. Parallel chords and rich writing prevail. To accommodate the soloist, the orchestra is reduced to flute, clarinet, bassoon, strings and piano (some piano quasi-glissandos in keys such as E major here sound supernaturally fast) – though Michael Laus’s clean-fingered solo playing is so closely miked that he would have cut through Mahler Eight.

The remainder is purely orchestral. Lilian Elkington (1900-1969) would be totally unknown were it not for the discovery of the score and parts of this tone poem in a Worthing second-hand bookstore, priced at £3.75! Worth every penny: the piece, inspired by HMS Verdun bringing the Unknown Warrior home from France, is richly orchestrated and its opening recalls Sibelius.

In life, Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902) was overshadowed by Carl Reinecke, his colleague in Leipzig. This Serenade is innocuous (the Gounod-like Scherzo being by far the best movement) and in order to stay interesting needs better shaping and orchestral playing than it gets here.

MICHAEL ROUND Read the full review on Agora Classica


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