This is a brief tribute to one of the English Revival’s true Mystery Men. The vast output of Josef Holbrooke (1878–1958) has left hardly a wrack behind, but looking at this tiny sketch makes one long to view some of the larger canvases. (Thanks to the promotional industry of the composer’s son Gwydion Brooke—whom Thea King describes as the finest bassoonist she’s ever known, an artist of the first rank—we may sometime soon have the chance to do so.) Eilean Shona is an island off the west coast of Scotland, and this piece is a re-working of what was originally a song to words by Gerald Cumberland. What the text was about need hardly concern us, so immediately atmospheric is the music—a few bars and we are in thrall. That is real Celtic magic.
from notes by Christopher Palmer © 1991