Oh dear....this is not top-drawer Maw...I wanted very much to like these works, but repeated and sympathetic listening has found them very much as second rank.
Best is the 'Little Concert', which shows the lyrical, pastoral side of Maw, showing an attractive and fluently unpretentious concision. It is taken as read that Maw's writing is always beautifully crafted, but 'Hymnus' is a rather bloated, anonymous work, setting Latin texts for chorus and orchestra.... a kind of Parry for the nineties; well- upholstered, but I'm sorry to say, lacking in any really striking ideas.
Most disappointing is 'Shahnama'...it was a lovely idea to present a book of musical 'paintings', but, apart from perhaps no 9 (The Women of Egypt, overcome by the beauty of Yusuf, cutting their fingers as they peel oranges - the 'cuts' beautifully observed in the music) the musical substance - for a fine a composer as Maw...is second-hand and very thin indeed.
I'd get this CD for the 'Little Concert', which is beautifully performed -the other performances are all 'there' but refuse to come to life in these rather soulless recordings.