Edmund Rubbra is, as I have stated in my review of his symphonies Edward Rubbra - Complete Symphonies / Hickox, a seriously underrated composer. This recording compiles several other of Rubbra's orchestral works that appeared on the original releases with the symphonies. What Chandos have done here is put this CD out as a companion to the box set of the symphonies and what a fantastic disc this is!
The first piece "Sinfonia Concertante" is written for piano and orchestra and is played here by Howard Shelley. It's a great work that should be played more often. Shelley, who has turned to conducting since the 80s and has focused less on the piano, turns in a performance of great emotion and sensitivity. That said, he is a virtuoso talent and should be more well known. The second selection is "A Tribute," which was written for Vaughan Williams' 70th birthday. It's a short, but beautiful work that truly does act as an homage to this great and very influential composer. The third piece is called "The Morning Watch" and it has a troubled, unsettling quality to it. The final piece "Ode to the Queen" was written for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. From the opening of the first movement, we are treated to great outbursts of brass and percussion. The whole composition is really interesting. Rubbra, always the great orchestrator, proves himself yet again with masterful orchestral accompaniment.
The BBC National Orch. of Wales plays fantastic throughout and Richard Hickox's, as usual, is superb and serves the music wonderfully. The audio quality is typical Chandos: remarkably clear and balanced.
If you like Rubbra's symphonies and already own the Hickox box set, then don't hesitate to buy this companion disc. Highly recommended.