This deeply felt short piece for string orchestra dates from 1939 and was first performed in 1982. Here Milford looks to the example of his teacher, Vaughan Williams, for the disposition of his forces in the Elegy, and certainly the shadow of Vaughan Williams’s ‘Tallis Fantasia’ can be felt at various points, not least the opening and the wide spacing of many chordal passages throughout. Yet unlike Vaughan Williams, Milford’s fast driving rhythmic middle section moves the piece onto a new plane. When the slow music returns Milford has a solo violin soar above the sonorous strings before a solo string quartet mutters a distant wraith of the fast music, soon echoed increasingly quietly by the string tutti, now muted, as if Milford before the outbreak of war was hearing the ‘steady drummer, drumming like a voice in dreams’. The painting Milford responded to was said to be of the son of Charles II and Lucy Walter though it is now not believed to be James Scott, of whom the National Portrait Gallery have many other portraits. Milford also mis-spells Buccleuch on his manuscript with a ‘g’ instead of ‘c’ at the end.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2004