EM Records’ new recording of Violin Concertos by Charles Villiers Stanford and Robin Milford is now available.


The Violin Concerto by Robin Milford was composed in 1937 and received two radio broadcasts – but was laid aside and forgotten following the early death of its composer.  Possibly it was a victim of the trend then prevalent towards the programming of fiercely avant-garde compositions, both in concert halls and on the BBC, but its strongly melodic basis, its heady lyricism, and its passionate declamations make it a work undeserving of its neglect.


Although more evidently rooted in the Austro-Germanic tradition of Bruch and Brahms, the Violin Concerto no.2 of Charles Villiers Stanford is no less a fascinating work.  Composed in 1918, yet left only in a short-score form upon the composer’s death in 1924, it was finally completed in 2011 by the noted Stanford scholar Jeremy Dibble, who used his expert knowledge of Stanford’s compositional methods to realise the orchestration and thus to make the work performable in its intended context.  The Concerto is especially memorable for the warmly glowing second movement, which seems to recall an Irish folk melody, whilst the inspired dialogue between solo violin and clarinet that characterises the central section provides a movingly effective complement.


This recording took place in January 2014 at Watford Colosseum with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes, and Rupert Marshall-Luck as soloist; and is available to purchase here.


Two other discs have also lately been released by EM Records. EMR CD019–20 is a double-disc set that comprises the complete extant music for violin and piano of Herbert Howells, including his three already-published Violin Sonatas, the second of which has recently been restored to its original four-movement structure and which is presented on disc in this form for the first time; and several of the composer’s shorter works, three of which are also World Première recordings. The set also includes the monumental Sonata in B minor, a vibrant and colourful work, full of youthful vigour and red-blooded emotional expression; which, thanks to this recording, is now available for the first time for music enthusiasts the world over to savour.


EMR CD021 features a choral work by one of the giants of British music, recorded here for the first time over a century after its composition. The Mass in G by Charles Villiers Stanford was completed in 1892 and is notable for its opulence, employing a full orchestra and vocal soloists as well as chorus; and its colourful, characterful setting of the liturgical text shows Stanford at the height of his powers – a master of structure, form and musical architecture. It is complemented on this disc with works by another highly significant musical figure, C. Hubert H. Parry. His ‘Songs of Farewell’ are gems of choral writing, their intricately shaped lines and finely crafted textures pointing with a profound poignancy the meaning of their texts; the hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ and, especially, the unison song ‘Jerusalem’ are familiar and well-loved settings; whilst the processional ‘I was glad’, written for the coronation of Edward VII and performed at every coronation since, has a verve and splendour that epitomise the grandeur of ceremony.


Ivor Gurney’s Violin Sonata in E-flat major was used as the setting for ‘The Poet who loved the War: Ivor Gurney’, broadcast in March on BBC Four. Written and presented by Tim Kendall, the moving and thought-provoking hour-long documentary examined Gurney’s poetry and music and the ways in which both were influenced by the events he experienced and the people he met during the First World War. Several excerpts from the Violin Sonata were used, and these were taken from the World Première recording of the work on EM Records (EMR CD011), performed by Rupert Marshall-Luck and Matthew Rickard.


The sections of the film for which the Sonata provides a setting can be seen in a compilation on the VIDEOS page.


Two of EM Records’ recent releases have been selected as Recordings of the Month by MusicWeb International. EMR CD019–20 – the complete works for violin and piano by Herbert Howells, recorded by Rupert Marshall-Luck and Matthew Rickard – was chosen for May 2014, with the reviewer John Quinn highlighting the ‘reference performances’, stating that ‘the quality is such that Marshall-Luck and Rickard need not fear competition’. Duncan Honeybourne’s conspectus of the piano works of Greville Cooke (EMR CD022) was selected for July 2014. Of the recording, John France commented: ‘This CD is superbly presented in every way. The liner-notes, written by Duncan Honeybourne are excellent, informative and interesting. The standard of playing is of the highest order: the recording is outstanding.’


The reviews of both recordings can be read in full by following the links given below:

EMR CD019–20 | EMR CD022


Lionel Sainsbury’s ‘Soliloquy’ for solo violin, from EMR CD011, has been played on the USA radio station KUSC during a documentary about the composer and his work, hosted by Jim Svejda on ‘The Evening Program’. The broadcast also featured Sainsbury’s recently-released recording ‘Sunlight and Storms’ (Navona Records).


Jim Svejda’s interview with Lionel Sainsbury about ‘Soliloquy’, followed by a short extract from the recording, can be heard using the media player below.

The Evening Program with Jim Svejda

17 July 2014 | 9pm PST

Please install the free Adobe® Flash® Player to play this extract.

EM Records is delighted to announce that a Loyalty Card Scheme will soon be available to customers. This will offer a free single EM Records disc as a thank-you for every 10 discs purchased, regardless of whether they are single or double disc-sets (which count as one purchase). Loyalty points (one per disc purchased; 10 needed for a free disc) can be redeemed through all methods of purchase – whether in person, through a postal order or a website sale.


Online subscriptions to the Loyalty Card Scheme will be available shortly through the EM Records website. Please visit this page for updates.

A highly rewarding double-disc collection. Bax’s Sonata explodes with pent-up energy... Williams’s rich, expansive sound is well caught.
EMR CD007-8 | Classical Music
deeply committed and discriminating performances... Marshall-Luck’s ability to spin cantabile lines with the subtlest of phrasal inflections pays dividends.
EMR CD006 | The Strad
If in any way you like English music then this disc is a must. Even if you don’t, this disc is a must. In fact, you have little choice: buy it, please.

EMR CD005 | MusicWeb International

Whether on violin or viola, Marshall-Luck plays with ideal purity over the widest range... Matthew Rickard’s piano-playing is also impressive.
EMR CD003 | Gramophone
David Owen Norris’s performances convey exactly the sense of contained delight I’m sure Quilter would have wanted.
EMR CD002 | BBC Music Magazine
an ideal combination of enterprising programming, some impressive musical archaeology, and superb playing.
EMR CD001 | International
Record Review