The current spate of exciting new symphonies by British composers such as Matthew Taylor and David Matthews might not have evolved without the example of the 11 symphonies of Robert Simpson (1921-1997). A BBC Radio producer (whose legacy includes rescuing the output of an even older symphonist, Havergal Brian), Simpson belied his gentle appearance by producing works of incredible weight, power and logic. His heroes were Carl Nielsen and Beethoven, not known for pulling their punches when it came to pumping out a fortissimo.

Robert Simpson

It is a tonic to revisit Simpson’s work, and respond once again to its strength and intricacy. In these first recordings, made for broadcast by the BBC at the time of the premieres (1972 and 1977 respectively), musical ideas unfold seamlessly – witness the journey from No 6’s mysterious opening to its final stupendous, almost cacophonic march. As punchy and challenging as Simpson’s music is, (try the Molto vivacescherzo of Symphony No 5), structural integrity is always paramount.

Andrew Davis’s performance of No 5 is not quite on a par with Vernon Handley’s 1994...