The Nash Ensemble
Although consistently high in quality, Howard Ferguson's compositions are comparatively few in number. When once asked why he had written so little his answer was to quote Shelley: 'Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!'. That this 'Spirit of Delight' descended on all three works on this record will be self-evident; together they form a representative group of his chamber and piano works. Each displays the characteristics of Ferguson's personal voice which, once established at the outset of his career, changed little. His style may be described as 20th-century romantic, with his works showing an adherence to classical structures, both formally and harmonically. In general, the thematic material is derived from small groups of notes, and within movements ideas are closely knit. Frequently a theme heard at the beginning of a work acts as a motto that returns to give a cyclic quality to the whole.