ELGAR:  Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47. Serenade in E Minor, Op. 20.  Elegy, Op. 58.  Sospiri, Op. 70.
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS:  Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis Fantasia on "Greensleeves."

Sinfonia of London/New Philharmonia Orch/Sir John Barbirolli, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 67264 (M) (ADD)  TT:  58:07

A superb collection of gentle gems of British string music, beautifully performed and reproduced all recorded between 1962 and 1966. With the exception of  the Tallis Fantasia, all sessions were in Kingsway Hall, site of many of the finest recordings over a period of several decades (for  years not available for that purpose); the warmth and low bass of  Kingsway are ever-apparent, with rich string sonorities, and a well-balanced quartet in Introduction and Allegro (played by the Allegri String Quartet)  The Tallis Fantasia, recorded in Temple Church  benefits from the sonorous resonance of that site  Engineers have done a fine job singling out the string quartet in this music (although identity of the quartet members is not given)  The true "gem" of this collection is  Elgar's SospirI ("Sighs"), a brief work written in 1914 scored for strings, harp and organ.This surely is among the most poignant works ever written, with suggestions of Mahler, the touching theme conveyed by plaintive arching strings over a firm organ underpinning.

This collection always has been available in one form or another.  Now we have these splendid performances sounding better than ever, at mid-price.  This truly is one of EMI's Great Recordings of the Century.

R.E.B. (April 2000)