Elgar: Serenade for Strings; Holst: St Paul’s Suite; Delius: Summer Night on the River; etc. – Camerata of Wales, Owain Arwel Hughes
Sir Edward Elgar once described the sensation of flying in an aeroplane to Frederick Delius: ‘There is a delightful feeling of elation in sailing through gold and silver clouds. It is, Delius, rather like your music – a little intangible sometimes, but always very beautiful.’
On this disc, Camerata Wales – consisting of some of today’s finest Welsh musicians – and conductor Owain Arwel Hughes bring together not only Elgar and Delius, but also Holst, Peter Warlock, and the Welsh composer Arwel Hughes (father of the conductor) in a programme which is certainly both elating and beautiful. St Paul’s Suite and Capriol Suite are both works that with their catchy, danceable tunes have proved almost impossible to sit still to while listening, and in Arwel Hughes’s Fantasia, based on ‘an old ecclesiastical theme’, it is an elegiac melody bathed in nostalgia that sets the tone. Delius’s On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night on the River are the most English of all English music – even though the river portrayed in the latter piece is actually French: the Loing, flowing past Delius’s home near Fontainebleau. These gems are framed by pieces by Elgar, the Serenade for Strings, one of his best-loved works and glowing with identifiably Edwardian warmth throughout, and the Elegy, whose brevity (it lasts around five minutes) belies its depth of emotion.