This is the only CD
of Maconchy's orchestral music although
it seems that Lorelt have one in the
works. It makes for compelling if sometimes
The overture Proud
Thames was written in 1952 as Maconchy’s
entry in a London County Council
competition. It is bright-eyed and magical.
Like Smetana's Vltava it traces
the Thames from bubbling source to the
Capital. It's a work of singing and
sighing beguilement and of regal nobility.
It made me think of John Veale's Panorama,
broadcast earlier this year on BBC Radio
A year later, in Coronation
year, came something altogether more
serious in the shape of the Symphony
for Double String Orchestra. A fandango
pizzicato in the first movement leavens
the mix. After a torridly poignant even
searing heartfelt Lento comes the buoyantly
sanguine Allegro scherzando again with
an Iberian accent. The concluding Passacaglia
recalls the more sombre string writing
of William Alwyn.
The solo violin contributes
prominently to the Symphony. In the
Serenata Concertante it is centre-stage.
Not a full blown concerto, the title
prepares us for the mildly astringent
yet smoothly troubadour romantic style.
It is as if Walton on the one hand were
meeting Frankel on the other. The Serenata
was a Feeney Trust commission premiered
by Manoug Parikian and the CBSO conducted
by Hugo Rignold in October 1963. For
all the ‘Serenade’ stem of the title
the music is ambivalent as evidenced
by the Kodaly-like luxuriance of the
pinnacle of the first movement. The
scherzo flickers with accessible rhythmic
interest part-coloured by Bartók.
The andante is magically and majestically
slow of pulse. The pecking hunting motif
adumbrated by solo violin, horns and
others recalls Shostakovich and then
swings back to Kodaly again. The work
closes by sinking into a warm Bergian
The Serenata and
Symphony were made in association with
the RVW Trust.
Music for Strings
is fresh to commercial recording.
It is in four movements like it substantial
companions here. It was a commission
for the 1983 Proms. The recording possesses
a warmer halo around the strings by
comparison with the analogue recordings
of 1972 and 1982. The textures are romantic
and sumptuous, you could warm your hands
by them on a cold day. This is a work
by turns playful (Scherzo; Allegro)
and melancholy yet reticent (Mesto).
It has the pliable buoyancy of the Dag
Wirén Serenade for Strings
and the jazzy syncopations of Leonard
Let us hope that Lyrita
or others will oblige with a recording
of Maconchy's Symphony for full orchestra
and the large-scale cantata Abelard
see also Maconchy