This disc is for the most part a big success, and gets off to an impressive start with a beautiful performance of the glittering, wonderful 7-minute Young Apollo for piano, string quartet and string orchestra - a mercurial, scintillatingly radiant work somewhat reminiscent of minimalism in its development of themes, which are repeated with subtle transformations rather than developed symphonically. The double concerto for violin, viola and orchestra dates from 1932, but was orchestrated by Colin Matthews based on Britten's own sketches. It is more conservative in idiom (Frank Bridge is a strong presence) and might not be Britten's most profound work, but it is still mightily impressive with a haunting Rhapsody and an effective final Tarantella, all skillfully written and superbly scored.
The Two Portraits is probably the weak link here (if anything is) with a romantically charged first movement (something of Alban Berg but far less adventurous) and a lyrical but slightly inconsequential second movement. The string orchestral version of the Sinfonietta is, however, very effective and imaginative.
But I have a couple of nitpicks about this release as well - the sound quality is a little cavernous and some details are inevitably lost. Otherwise it is mostly a success, with splendid solo playing. The orchestral contributions exhibit energy and spirit but sound a little thin at times, especially in the Sinfonietta which really needs more flair and power and stronger characterization. Still, this disc deserves a firm recommendation, regardless of the caveats.