Top critical review
pleasant enough background music
on 10 April 2014
As you can see from the other reviews here, it's difficult with music like this. Those who like it stand accused of parochialism - of lacking discernment, or liking things just because they're English - those who don't, of snobbery and being too hard to please. Well, I like the best of Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and this is very much in their idiom; but it's like them at their worst rather than their best. Bland and derivative at times, it occasionally has a going-through-the-motions feel like inferior film music: the composer looking for devices to fill up the requisite amount of time. I don't believe the clarinet concerto has one moment of real inspiration from beginning to end; and the last track is a fragment apparently salvaged from a violin concerto which even the composer didn't like!
At the very best it is, as the notes say of Severn Rhapsody, 'unpretentious pastoral'; it is mediocre, not because of the school it belongs to, but because it is not a particularly good example of that school. On the whole it's music most suitable for Last of the Summer Wine, or one of those heartwarming scenic dramas you used to get on Sunday evenings. It's no surprise that it has often been used for soundtracks, nor that nobody outside England has ever heard of the man.
So go on then, call me a snob. You're parochial! ;)