These are beautifully eloquent and atmospheric performances of three of Alwyn's finest and most searching non-symphonic works. Allowances need to be made for the 1950s sound, especially about 1 minute 40 seconds into the lovely harp concerto 'Lyra Angelica' ( the work Alwyn wished to be remembered by), where the sound actually distorts, but this did not spoil my enjoyment of Sidonie Goossens's and Sir John Barbirolli's wonderful performance. If anything the emotion is slightly underplayed, but this, paradoxically, makes it all the more affecting in my view. I am aware of the argument that Lyra Angelica makes a strong first impression - which quickly wears off. This performance, I believe may convince doubters about the true stature of this fine work. I have never heard a more powerful performance of 'The Magic Island' (after 'The Tempest') either. This is the first broadcast performance from the Cheltenham Festival of 1952. The CD ends with the sibelian 'Autumn Legend' - another deeply moving performance (first London performance). It is Alwyn's 'Swan of Tuonela' and a searching and eloquent work. The recording tends to spotlight the Cor Anglais soloist ( as it does the harpist in Lyra Angelica). The playing time is under 50 minutes and allowances must be made for the sound - but I would not be without this Alwyn disc, which comes with super notes by Robert Matthew-Walker and several fascinating photographs of Alwyn and Barbirolli.
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