Originally published on October 1

W. H. “Billy” Reed (1876-1942) was leader of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1912 to 1935, and became a close friend of Edward Elgar, advising him on the technicalities of writing the Violin Concerto (for Kreisler) and penning a book, Elgar As I Knew Him, shortly after Elgar had died (in 1934).

On the evidence of String Quartets Four (C-major) & Five (A-minor), and also the Légende, Reed’s own music is well-worth investigating – tuneful, lively, eloquent, unpredictable, stylishly a happy mix of English and French expressions, Dvořák occasionally, with personal passions and compelling intensities, and, as might be expected from a violinist good enough to lead a top orchestra, consummately composed for the quartet medium.

This is very engaging music that more than holds its own in terms of invention, structure, direction and distinctive personality. The Cirrus String Quartet (Martin Smith, who writes the booklet note, Suzanne Loze, Morgan Goff, David Burrowes) are committed advocates for these scores, and are superbly recorded for the Mike Purton Recording label by Tony Faulkner, February this year in Pamoja Hall at Sevenoaks School in Kent.

MPR114 can be purchased now through the Mike Purton Recording website, linked to as below, and will not be available on streaming services until the official release date of October 28.