Edmund Rubbra was born just after the turn of the 20th century, and died not many years before it was over. Like many 20th century English composers, he refused to abandon tonality, but, instead, simply updated his musical language such that tonal centers are more elusive than what went before, melodies somewhat more evasive. Fair comparisons would be Alwyn, Piston, Barber, Diamond, and the like, although Rubbra largely eschewed the romanticism in which some of those composers sometimes indulged.
In fact, it would be fair to call Rubbra's music, at least on this disc, relatively low-key. The Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby are Pulcinella-like pastiches; generally satisfying, for what they are. The Violin Concerto and the Improvisation for Violin and Orchestra are the real meat of the program. The liner notes refer to a "serene joyfulness" as being Rubbra's hallmark, which is a fair description for these pieces and for parts of his later symphonies. That's something that particularly attracts this listener to Rubbra's music. While it is muscular and forward-moving at appropriate moments, it is not violent or agressive.
The performances and sound are first rate; fully competitive with the Tamsin Little performance of the Concerto once available on Conifer.