I first heard one of Simpson's works at a BBC Invitation concert a few years ago, when his Fifth Symphony was performed by the BBCSO. This was clearly an important British 20th-century composer. He is a composer whose work is too 'Classical' or conservative for the New Music Orthodoxy and too 'experimental' or dissonant for the Classical Orthodoxy, so he has tended to get less attention than he deserves. In practice his music is a complex blend of orthodox and experimental, making him a fascinating transitional figure, a man with a foot in both camps and belonging to neither. It is no surprise to find he admired Havergal Brian, for example. He was also a champion of Bruckner. He was a keen amateur astronomer and his early training was in medicine. I am greatly impressed by the range of these works, their undeniable power and their inventiveness, and their robust humanity. If this country has produced 'Great Symphonists', then two of the candidates for that title must be Ralph Vaughan Williams and Robert Simpson.
The gathering of these works in one box has made an overall assessment of the work a lot easier - and cheaper -for the interested listener.