Richard Strauss’ Enoch ArdenOp. 38, composed in 1897, is an unusual work, and one written in a style which has rather profoundly gone out of fashion. For narrator and piano, it’s one of a rather surprisingly high number of 19th-century works that enlist an actor, but when was the last time you saw a performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastiquesequel Lélio, for instance? Likewise, other than Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolfand Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, not much of the 20th-century narrator/accompaniment repertoire gets performed as regularly as it should, either.

Matthew Connell in a still from Enoch Arden Matthew Connell in a still from Enoch Arden. Image © Jak Scanlon

Perhaps the comparative neglect of this genre of music is because the audience’s attention can become a little one-sided; Strauss’ music here is very much secondary to the work of the narrator reading Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name. If you imagine the turn-of-the-century equivalent of an audiobook – plenty of speech, music is secondary – then you’ll be in the right...