- Song for Orchestra, Op. 33
- Knight in Armour, for orchestra, Op. 8
- Symphony No. 4, Op. 61
- Symphony No. 2, Op. 30
The British composer Ruth Gipps wrote a great deal of music before her death in 1999, most of it soon forgotten because of serious gender discrimination. Even with the new attention being paid to women composers, her music is far from common, and for this reason alone this release by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is welcome. Actually, Gipps suffered for a time from dual discrimination: against women, and against any music that did not win the approval of academic modernists. Her style certainly followed that of the leading figure in British composition during much of her career, Ralph Vaughan Williams. But she put an entirely distinctive twist on it, with richly sensuous slow movements and an episodic sense of form. The "Symphony No. 2, Op. 30," of 1945 is perhaps the best of the bunch: Gipps embraces her episodic tendencies in a unique single-movement structure that seems to unfold according to some unknown program. The "Symphony No. 4, Op. 61," was dedicated to Arthur Bliss, another influence. Gipps had some success with the small, jaunty symphonic poem "Knight in Armour, Op. 8," which was programmed by conductor Henry Wood at the Proms. The "Song for Orchestra, Op. 33," here receives its recorded premiere, but none of the other pieces are exactly common. Gamba leads the orchestra in coherent performances of music that were probably unfamiliar to the players, but this music is worthy of revisitation by other ensembles that could really bring out its smoky, slow movements and its overall narrative quality.