Previously a Hyperion LP, and now a Metier CD, here returned to the catalogue are two vivid scores by Edward Cowie (born 1943 in Birmingham), each lasting twenty-two minutes and both demanding of performers and listeners, if thoroughly worthwhile. Both works are new to me.

Concerto for Orchestra (1982) bowls me over, searing with energy and intensity. It’s complex as music and also as orchestration – plenty going on – as naturalistic as it is symphonic, a creation that propels forward powerfully and dissonantly, yet without eschewing lyricism (some beautiful passages, light glinting on water), which comes off equally well as absolute music as it does in painting pictures through oceanic waves of sound, I was gripped throughout and the final minutes are cumulatively thrilling. If stylistic references are needed, from time to time I thought of Elliott Carter, his Concerto for Orchestra (1969), and, more so, Peter Maxwell Davies’s First Symphony (completed in 1976).

Clarinet Concerto No.2 (1980) is nearly as busy in terms of the orchestra, arguably too much so for a concertante work, the soloist having to work hard to cut through – Alan Hacker (1938-2012) gives the solo part his very best shot, entering into the fray of the arresting opening for what is a suspenseful and dramatic work.

Presentation is updated – a reminiscing note from the composer, a shorter one from Howard Williams, who draws excellent playing from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, November 1983/January 84, Philharmonic Hall, producer Andrew Keener with Mike Clements (“Mr Bear”) engineering. A control-room photo is included.

Paul Baily, a slightly fluttery analogue background aside, has done an impressive job re-mastering from the vinyl (the master-tape has gone AWOL it seems). Although the sound is detailed and dynamic, certain instruments don’t always come from the expected position (channels reversed I wondered) but others do, so my one-man jury must return a “not proven” verdict. In this instance, Cowie’s music takes precedence.

I wonder if Métier can now do a deal with the BBC and release the first performance of Cowie’s Leviathan, memorably launched, leaving a big impression, at the 1975 Proms, BBCSO conducted by Andrew Davis. As far as I know Leviathan has yet to be recorded.