Butterworth: The Banks of Green Willow; Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad'; A Shropshire Lad – Rhapsody; Two English Idylls; Suite for String Quartette; Love Blows as the Wind Blows; Orchestral Fantasia

Reviewed on Fri 22 Jul, 2016

Baritone James Rutherford is in glorious voice in both the 1913 triptych Love Blows as the Wind Blows and Kriss Russman's ripely sympathetic orchestral arrangements of the indelible Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad'.

George Butterworth was just 31 when he was killed in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme on 5 August 1916. This generously full centenary tribute reinforces what a grievous loss he was to British music and finds Kriss Russman eliciting an irreproachably sensitive and finely honed response from the BBC NOW, most beautifully captured by the BIS microphones in the orchestra's Cardiff Bay home venue of Hoddinott Hall. Baritone James Rutherford is in glorious voice in both the 1913 triptych Love Blows as the Wind Blows and Russman's ripely sympathetic orchestral arrangements of the indelible Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad'. The conductor is also responsible for the string-orchestra transcription of the charming, if occasionally uneven 1910 Suite for String Quartette (the composer's own spelling, by the way), as well as the imaginative and agreeably succinct completion of a 1914 Fantasia for orchestra (the manuscript of which runs to some 92 bars). No complaints, either, about this team's strongly characterful and agreeably idiomatic advocacy of the ineffably poignant, much-loved offerings which make up the remainder (the orchestral rhapsody, A Shropshire Lad, a bona fide masterpiece). Inquisitive collectors need not tarry.
–Andrew Achenbach