Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

Alternatively
Classicsonline  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

 

William ALWYN (1905-1985)
Chamber Music and Songs
1. Rhapsody for Piano Quartet (1938-39) [9:20]
2. Sonata Impromptu for Violin and Viola (1939/1940) [16:44]
3. Ballade for Viola and Piano (1939) [10:01]
4. Two Songs for Voice, Violin and Piano (1931) [4:37]
5. Three Songs to Poems by Trevor Blakemore (1940) [6:40]
6. Sonatina for Violin and Piano (1933) [10:30]
7. Three Winter Poems for String Quartet (1948) [9:00]
8. Chaconne for Tom for Treble Recorder and Piano (1982)
Madeleine Mitchell (violin: 1,2,4,6); Roger Chase (viola: 1-3); Lucy Wilding (cello: 1);
Andrew Ball (piano: 1,3,6); Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone: 4,5); Iain Burnside (piano: 4,5,8); Bridge String Quartet (7); John Turner (treble recorder: 8)
rec. 22 March (8), 17/18 August (1-3) and 10/11 October (4,5) 2006 at Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk
Booklet notes in English and German
Texts for the Two Songs for Voice, Violin and Piano only
First recording: 3-6 & 8
NAXOS 8.570340 [70:15]
Experience Classicsonline


William Alwyn is best known for his orchestral works – in particular the fine series of five symphonies already issued by Naxos – and his music for films such as The History of Mr Polly, Carve Her Name With Pride and A Night to Remember. His songs and chamber music are much less familiar. This fact is reinforced by the fact that five of the eight works on this CD are receiving their first recordings.
 
This CD includes music which spans fifty years of Alwyn’s career, although all but two of the pieces originate from the decade 1938-48. The earliest works on this enterprising disc are the Two Songs for Voice, Violin and Piano of 1931. Alwyn’s music for voice is probably the least well-known of his less familiar output. These two songs, Wood Magic and Lament of the Tall Tree set poems by Alwyn himself. Both reflect on themes of nature and loneliness and are imaginatively arranged for the unusual line-up of baritone, piano and violin. More conventional are the Three Songs to Words by Trevor Blakemore from 1940. Again, these songs are reflective in nature, although I found them strangely less satisfying that the two earlier settings. I found the recording balance for the songs very slightly on the reverberant side. I would have appreciated having Jeremy Huw Williams’ voice a little closer in the balance relative to Iain Burnside’s piano and swathed in slightly less of Potton Halls’s lovely acoustic. Sadly, no words for the latter three songs were provided in the booklet.
 
The Rhapsody for Piano Quartet which opens the disc is a strong, muscular work with a more subdued middle section. It reminded me of Bax in parts and I would imagine this would be a welcome addition to the piano quartet repertoire for those that discovered it. The Sonata Impromptu for violin and viola is a slightly later work and was written for Frederick Grinke and Watson Forbes, who gave the first performance in 1940. For me, this piece rewarded repeated listening. It is never easy to write for just two string instruments but Alwyn rises to the challenge admirably, especially in the imaginative Theme and Variations second movement. All three movements use contrapuntal fugal writing allowing the aural illusion of there being more then two instruments present. This is further strengthened by the excellent performance by Madeleine Mitchell and Roger Chase who are perfectly matched as musical partners and lend to the music an apparent ease of execution which belies the music’s technical complexities.
 
The violist Watson Forbes was one of the dedicatees of another of Alwyn’s works from 1939; the Ballade for Viola and Piano – the other dedicatee being Myers Foggin. Like the slightly earlier Rhapsody for Piano Quartet, the Ballade flows freely from beginning to end, without any serious symphonic ‘development’. Roger Chase again plays beautifully, ably supported by Andrew Ball. The early Sonatina for Violin and Piano from 1933 inhabits a more tranquil, wistful world than the other instrumental pieces on this CD and is one of Alwyn’s more overtly lyrical works. For all its brevity – less than eleven minutes – its three contrasting movements are immensely satisfying and it is astonishing that this is the Sonatina’s first ever recording. As in all her appearances on this disc, Madeleine Mitchell gives a flawless and thoroughly idiomatic performance with Andrew Ball again proving the perfect duo partner.
 
The Three Winter Poems for String Quartet date from the beginning of 1948 and were dedicated to Alwyn’s former teacher John B McEwen. It is one of many works for string quartet that the composer wrote prior to his ‘official’ First String Quartet in 1953 and it was never performed in Alwyn’s lifetime. It received its first performance by the Maraini Quartet in June 2005, during the composer’s centenary year. These effective miniatures are self-explanatory in their character and the Bridge String Quartet gives convincing but perhaps slightly understated performances.
 
In later life, Alwyn’s health was not good and he had more or less decided that his composing days were over. However, he was persuaded to put pen to paper again in 1982 when recorder player John Turner was compiling an album of short pieces by his colleagues for composer Thomas Pitfield’s eightieth birthday for the following year. The Chaconne for Tom joined other pieces by Alan Bush, Gordon Crosse, Anthony Gilbert and John McCabe and is an engaging set of variations on Happy Birthday to You for recorder – played here by Turner himself – and piano – here Iain Burnside taking time out from his song accompaniments. It proved actually to be Alwyn’s penultimate work, the Third String Quartet following in 1984.
 
For lovers of post-romantic English music in general and of William Alwyn’s work in particular, this must be an indispensable issue. Just under half of the disc’s playing time comprises works never heard before on CD and the others – represented on a Chandos CD with only the Rhapsody appears elsewhere as well – all receive the sort of winning performances one has come to expect from Naxos’s superb survey of twentieth-century English music.
 
Derek Warby

see also review by Ewan McCormick and William Kreindler 

Alwyn discography


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review 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.