1920 was the time when Rootham was preoccupied with his folksong opera The Two Sisters
, and the first and last movements of this suite reflects this interest with their quasi-folksong themes. The limpid opening Allegretto really invents an idiom which Gerald Finzi would later make his own, the gently rising theme held across the bar, at first on piano later reinforced by strings softly stealing in. The ‘Lento assai’ slow movement continues the mood established by the first, a triplet now giving the evocative line its pastoral character, the flowing phrases treated imitatively but sung out by strings together to give emotional power to climaxes. The gently rhythmic ‘Allegro moderato e leggiero’ is characterised by its 5/4 time signature, while the ‘Molto vivace’ finale contains what may be elements of a real folksong, the swinging 3/4 time constantly threatening to turn into a waltz, before a brief reflective Lento for strings alone presages the rush to the end. The Miniature Suite
was written very much in the example and influence of Holst’s St Paul’s Suite
and is dedicated ‘to my Sister Mabel’, then the music mistress at Clifton High School in Bristol, for whose pupils it was presumably first intended.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2002