Milford wrote this as a ‘Miniature String Quartet in G’ in 1933, with the optional title of ‘Concerto’ when played by a string orchestra. The Adagio was published in an organ arrangement in 1935 and the full score in 1938. In the first movement Milford sustains a constant bouncing 6/8 against which he projects two engaging outdoor tunes. Towards the end, in a sudden interlude, six romantic Adagio bars present us a sudden lyrical outburst before being snatched away, rather as if the whole movement had taken us on some country railway of the 1930s, and a brief vision – perhaps an orchard in bloom – had been glimpsed and immediately lost as the train rounded a curve. That slow section prepares us for the slow movement which is very much in the style of the slower movements of Warlock’s suite Capriol
– then still new – and consists of a twelve-bar theme followed by three short variants on it, with the recapitulation of the opening statement to end. The jaunty insouciant finale is pure Milford, consisting entirely of two tunes that are constantly elaborated over the jaunty walking accompaniment, and then sung in counterpoint with a delicious quietly exhilarating effect. But also typical Milford, no sooner have we experienced it than it is snatched away and the work is over.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2004