52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Buy through MusicWeb for £11.00 postage paid World-wide. Try it on Sale or Return

Purchase this disc

Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971)
Symphonies: No. 1a (1950) [22’56]; No. 2, ‘A Pastoral Symphonyb (1959) [19’47]; No. 3 (1964) [32’03]
abLondon Symphony Orchestra/aSir John Pritchard, bNicholas Braithwaite; cBBC Symphony Orchestra/Norman Del Mar. With bTracey Chadwell (soprano).
Rec. acKingsway Hall aon March 25th, 1975, cin April 1967; bin Watford Town Hall on August 25th-26th, 1993. ADD/bDDD
Original recordings of Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 made in association with The British Council; Symphony No. 2 recorded with the support of The Rawsthorne Trust.

Peter Donohoe’s recording of the Rawsthorne Piano Concertos on Naxos last year was as good an indicator as any of the stature of this composer. The present Lyrita disc stands as the ideal complement. John McCabe, himself a notable composer, provides insightful booklet notes.

Perhaps Rawsthorne’s finest quality is that his music can sound recognisably English without moving towards the idealised indulgence that can mar music from that country. The First Symphony (the first performance of which was conducted by Sir Adrian Boult) provides ample evidence of this in the second movement, Lento, while the first movement is highly energetic, very inventive and superbly scored. The predominant 5/8 rhythm of the Scherzo gives the music a restless, shifting quality.

The Second Symphony makes use of a soprano soloist in the finale (making reference, perhaps, to Mahler’s Fourth – or Vaughan Williams’ own ‘Pastoral’). The poem, by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516-1547) is reprinted in the booklet. Tracey Chadwell is excellent, her clarion clarity a real bonus, and Braithwaite conjures up the requisite mysterious atmosphere (there is some superb trumpet playing during the course of this movement also). Yet the weight of argument lies in the first movement, which nevertheless emerges as gentle and assured. The Scherzo is labelled ‘Country Dance’ – its lilting wind phrases are immediately appealing. The language here is spiky (yet not so much as to invoke Stravinsky, for example) and Nicholas Braithwaite ensures that the LPO are on top form.

The Third Symphony is the longest of the works on this disc. Dedicated to the composer’s wife, Isabel, it is in many ways the finest of his symphonies. Perhaps surprisingly, there is a twelve-note row in operation (as McCabe points out, though, it all still sounds like Rawsthorne). The first movement is certainly more challenging and more complex than anything on the disc so far. The second movement, too, speaks of more expressive worlds than hitherto (and certainly deeper than its indication, ‘Alla Sarabanda - Andantino’, might seem to imply). The finale is a virtuoso tour de force that the BBC Symphony Orchestra rises magnificently to: the argument is sometimes quite thorny and intense.

Well worth hearing – do try to listen also to the Naxos Rawsthorne Piano Concertos disc if Rawsthorne’s music appeals. Highly recommended.

Colin Clarke

The Lyrita catalogue



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.