Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



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
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
 

Buy through MusicWeb
for £11.75 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

William ALWYN (1905-1985)
Symphony No. 1 (1949) [41:13]
Symphony No. 4 (1959) [35:14]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/William Alwyn
recording data not given
LYRITA SRCD.227 [76:33]

Experience Classicsonline




 
 
One hearing of William Alwyn's scores suffices to "place" them in the British twentieth-century symphonic tradition. Closer listening, however, reveals that Alwyn has a few distinctive stylistic tricks up his sleeve that distinguish him from his contemporaries and compatriots.
 
The music falls agreeably on the ear, in the familiar post-Vaughan Williams manner that you might reflexively think of as "melodic". Soon enough, however, you realize that you're not hearing many actual "tunes". Alwyn instead assembles his movements from short rhythmic and melodic motifs, of the sort considered readily susceptible to symphonic development. Even when a broad melody threatens to break through, like the high strings' second subject in the First Symphony's opening movement, it shortly gets interrupted or detoured. The sophisticated, sometimes intricate working-out of the motifs, together with a recurring pose of concentrated introspection, heightens the impression of musical substance and emotional importance.
 
The composer's writing is unquestionably tonal, but he uses tonality in an individual, sometimes very short-term way. At times, while each episode centers on a clear harmonic "home base," those tonal centers can shift repeatedly, and dramatically, over the course of a movement. So do the moods and textures - as in the Adagio ma non tanto of the First, when the hectic pumping brass chords abruptly give way, at 5:26, to a searching violin solo - with Alwyn fashioning distinctive, contrasting sonorities from diverse combinations of instruments.
 
In the outer movements, the composer avoids recognizable sonata and rondo forms - annotator Trevor Hold hears at least some of the Fourth's finale as a passacaglia. Instead, Alwyn relies on the well-wrought series of musical events to generate structural logic, which doesn't always work: the finales of both symphonies feel padded. Still, the individual events hold interest at any given moment, even when the music's large-scale progress isn't necessarily clear.
 
The interpretations are presumptively authoritative. The composer perhaps doesn't have the technical command of a full-time conductor: in the Fourth, with its driving rhythms, ensemble marginally loosens in the intricate development; there's some nervous coordination the First, and the landing at 5:01 is clumsy. But he guides the lighter-textured passages with assurance, and the performances sound unfailingly purposeful and effective. The LPO plays well enough: the high strings aren't intense enough in the first-movement climax of Symphony 4, but the high horns in Symphony 1's opening movement are secure and confident.
 
Lyrita's sound is a notch below the standard it's set elsewhere, notably in its Rubbra series: the tuttis here have a bit of a hard edge. But Alwyn's variegated orchestral palette reproduces with plenty of depth, and the resonant basses in the first movement of Symphony 1 have a terrific presence and focus. The company, as usual, offers no session information, but list original publication dates of 1977 for the First Symphony and 1975 for the Fourth, with matching respective copyright dates for the program notes.
 
All told, devotees of the British symphonists should find this worthwhile: a nice change of pace, perhaps, from the denser sonorities of Rubbra or the less clearly substantive essays of Bax.
 

Stephen Francis Vasta
 
See also review by Colin Clarke
See William Alwyn Website
 
 

 


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






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.