Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Sonata alla Toccata (1945/6)
Movements for Piano (1961)
Night Thoughts (1939)
Green Hills (1935)
Fantasy-Waltzes (1956/7)
Julian Milford (piano)

The present release is part of the Alwyn series launched by Chandos some ten years ago. The piano pieces under review span almost thirty years of Alwyn's composing life and therefore provide a fine survey of the composer's musical journey from the mid-thirties on. Had this recital been arranged in chronological order, Alwyn's progress would then appear in an even more favourable light. The earliest piece Green Hills has some echoes of John Ireland and so does the somewhat later Night Thoughts.

The Sonata alla Toccata is one of Alwyn's rare forays into Neo-Classicism. These fine and attractive pieces may seem somewhat lacking in weight and scope when compared with the magnificent Fantasy-Waltzes which is one of Alwyn's greatest piano works. This piece also belongs to the composer's full maturity and the music is remarkably crafted and contrasted: by turns dreamy and brilliant, serious and ironic, simple and complex. This set should have been a collection of simple miniatures but quickly outgrew the composer's initial intentions. Instead Alwyn produced one of his most beautiful and substantial pieces. A real masterpiece that should be in every pianist's repertoire.

Movements carry Alwyn's explorations a step further. This work inhabits a darker, more troubled sound-world than the extrovert Fantasy-Waltzes and shows how Alwyn continuously enlarged his emotional and instrumental palette. His mastery is absolute as it is in the late orchestral pieces such as the Fifth Symphony and the Sinfonietta for Strings. In it Alwyn approached a brand of dark-hued expressionism which the concluding Devil's Reel does not dispel for all its high spirits. Movements is undoubtedly one of his finest pieces.

Milford's playing and performances are very fine indeed though as far as the Fantasy-Waltzes are concerned he has to compete with the late John Ogdon (Chandos CHAN 8399) who has more tonal variety in his playing and who has a firmer grasp of the music. As far as I am concerned Ogdon's reading is in a class of its own but I find much to admire in Milford's performances of these fine pieces. A most welcome release which I do not hesitate recommending.

Hubert Culot

See also review by Gary Dalkin

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index