The latest addition to Mark Elder and the Hallé's steadily expanding survey of English music from the first half of the 20th century is a delectable collection of tone poems and illustrative pieces. The selection is carefully varied. Some of it is familiar enough, with the impressionist seascapes of Arnold Bax's Tintagel, moving via Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending (with the Hallé's leader Lyn Fletcher as the aerial soloist) and his First Norfolk Rhapsody to Delius's Summer Night on the River and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. But there's also Finzi's less often played elegy for orchestra, The Fall of the Leaf, all that survives of a projected triptych begun in the 1920s.
Also included are two pieces that give the Hallé Choir their moment in the spotlight - an extract from Elgar's neglected cantata King Olaf and John Ireland's setting of James Kirkup's The Hills. All of the performances are perfectly judged and the orchestral playing is predictably first rate. --The Guardian, 29th September 2006