John Ireland: Orchestral Works

John Ireland: Orchestral Works

By not composing a symphony or a major concerto, the 20th-century English pastoral composer John Ireland may have blighted his own chances at greatness. But listen to these orchestral miniatures, performed and recorded in exquisite detail by the Sinfonia of London and conductor John Wilson, and you’ll wonder why he isn’t viewed in the same league as Elgar or Vaughan Williams. From the very opening bars of “Satyricon” to the Dorset-inspired “Mai-Dun” and the beautiful A Downland Suite with its charming, stately minuet, Ireland proves himself a master orchestrator with a fine melodic instinct. You can hear him at his most intimate in his own arrangement for strings of the piano prelude, while the final “Epic March” has all the combined tenderness and swagger of the best Elgar orchestral miniatures. This is a superb window into a sorely neglected corner of English music.

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