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Vaughan Williams, Howells, Delius & Elgar: Music For Strings

Vaughan Williams, Howells, Delius & Elgar: Music For Strings

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This keenly anticipated album from Sinfonia of London and John Wilson features two of the greatest British works for string orchestra: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Sir Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro. Elgar’s ground-breaking work, commissioned for the newly formed London Symphony Orchestra and premièred in 1905, is inspired by the baroque concerto grosso, and features a solo string quartet contrasted with the full symphonic string section. These orchestral forces were also adopted by Herbert Howells in his Concerto for String Orchestra, from 1938. Delius’s Late Swallows is the only piece not originally composed for string orchestra; it was arranged (from the slow movement of Delius’s String Quartet) by his amanuensis, Eric Fenby. Recorded in Surround Sound and available as a Hybrid SACD, and digitally in Spatial Audio.


As ever, the brilliance of the playing makes this essential listening, the precision and attention to detail alive and exhilarating. The entire disc holds the listener in its grip, but the last movement of the Elgar, urgent and impassioned, has you on the edge of your seat: a tour de force.

-- Guardian (UK)

A MusicWeb International Recommended Recording

I think that this is tenth disc to be issued by Chandos in their series of recordings by The Sinfonia of London under John Wilson. All are Super Audio CDs recorded at 24 bit/96 kHz, and in order to appreciate the full glory of the sound, it is necessary to play them through an SACD player, although I hasten to add that they will reproduce at CD quality when played through a standard CD player. If you have multi-channel Hi-Fi, the extra fullness of surround sound can also be experienced.

Given that the Sinfonia of London was re-established in 2018 as a recording orchestra, staffed by top players from British and international ensembles, the superb ensemble playing is not surprising, and the Chandos recording engineers have given it the very fullest of service...A mildly reverberant acoustic provides a perfect cushion for the orchestra, and, as elsewhere, the strings in the vigorous outer movements of the Howells Concerto are splendid in their unanimity and fullness of tone. The necessarily less aggressive playing in the slow movement has a lovely bloom to the playing.

The disc closes with a fine performance of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, and as in the Tallis Fantasia, I soon became aware of the extremes of dynamic achieved. This lovely, utterly memorable work is so familiar that I just sat back and let it wash over me.

The presentation of the SACD is up to Chandos’ normal high standards, with a detailed analysis of the gestation and structure of each work (particularly of the Howells) and a history of the orchestra, accompanying a brief biography of John Wilson, all in English, French and German.

-- MusicWeb International (Jim Westhead)

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: February 03, 2023

  • UPC: 095115529126

  • Catalog Number: CHSA 5291

  • Label: Chandos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams

  • Conductor: John Wilson

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Sinfonia of London

  • Performer: John Mills, Michael Trainor, Andriy Viytovych, Richard Harwood


  1. Fantasis on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

    Composer: Ralph Vaughn Williams

    Ensemble: Sinfonia of London

    Conductor: John Wilson

  2. Concerto for String Orchestra

    Composer: Herbert Howells

    Ensemble: Sinfonia of London

    Conductor: John Wilson

  3. Late Swallows

    Composer: Frederick Delius

    Ensemble: Sinfonia of London

    Conductor: John Wilson

  4. Introduction and Allegro

    Composer: Edward Elgar

    Ensemble: Sinfonia of London

    Conductor: John Wilson