Classical home listening: English Music for Strings; David Matthews; Hansel and Gretel

John Wilson and his crack Sinfonia of London irradiate works by Britten, Berkeley and Bliss, while Matthews and the BBC Philharmonic make waves

• Forget any notions of wistful pastoral this title might suggest: English Music for Strings, performed by the Sinfonia of London, conducted by John Wilson (Chandos), is a collection of works from the 1930s, with a sharp, modernist energy to match. Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1937), with its poise, angularity and gleam, receives a virtuosic performance from this ace ensemble. The influence of Britten spills lightly into Lennox Berkeley’s lovely Serenade for Strings (1938-39), a work that travels from vivacity to urgent sorrow.

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