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Alwyn: Symphonies No. 1 & 4
 
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Alwyn: Symphonies No. 1 & 4

21 Aug 2007 | Format: MP3

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Song Title
Time
Popularity  
30
1
11:18
30
2
8:39
30
3
9:52
30
4
11:27
30
5
10:53
30
6
11:11
30
7
13:09


Product details

  • Original Release Date: 28 Aug 2007
  • Label: Lyrita
  • Copyright: 2007 Lyrita
  • Total Length: 1:16:29
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001HEE9ZA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,091 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles TOP 50 REVIEWER on 29 Dec 2013
Format: Audio CD
Alwyn had the misfortune of writing these works at a time when 'traditional' values of composition had been replaced by other attractions of an avant garde nature. This was reflected in the choice of music promoted by the broadcasters and this resulted in these fine works not being heard either sufficiently or fairly.

Alwyn was a prolific writer of film scores, with over 60 to his name, as well as being a composition professor at the Royal Academy of Music. The considerable success of his film music provided the financial security required to support his symphonic output. His music is tightly argued and lyrical. There are no major melodies such as are found in Rachmaninov or Elgar for example but instead there is an emphasis on motifs which are worked through lyrically such as in Beethoven for example The music is also extremely effective dramatically having an inbuilt epic quality about it. The orchestration shows considerable flair for colour and this works seamlessly with his compositional skills. All of these qualities are to be expected of a successful film score writer where there is no room for slackness of any variety and where every idea must work effectively.

The first four symphonies were conceived as a compositional group and written close together in the 1950's. This grouping has little bearing on the listener who can simply enjoy the music of each symphony on an individual basis. The grouping is more to do with the way in which they were written. They thus form a 4 movement group with the first symphony being the exposition, the second being the slow movement, the third being a march-scherzo and the fourth being the epilogue.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A fine and authentic version from the composer 29 Dec 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Alwyn had the misfortune of writing these works at a time when 'traditional' values of composition had been replaced by other attractions of an avant garde nature. This was reflected in the choice of music promoted by the broadcasters and this resulted in these fine works not being heard either sufficiently or fairly.

Alwyn was a prolific writer of film scores, with over 60 to his name, as well as being a composition professor at the Royal Academy of Music. The considerable success of his film music provided the financial security required to support his symphonic output. His music is tightly argued and lyrical. There are no major melodies such as are found in Rachmaninov or Elgar for example but instead there is an emphasis on motifs which are worked through lyrically such as in Beethoven for example The music is also extremely effective dramatically having an inbuilt epic quality about it. The orchestration shows considerable flair for colour and this works seamlessly with his compositional skills. All of these qualities are to be expected of a successful film score writer where there is no room for slackness of any variety and where every idea must work effectively.

The first four symphonies were conceived as a compositional group and written close together in the 1950's. This grouping has little bearing on the listener who can simply enjoy the music of each symphony on an individual basis. The grouping is more to do with the way in which they were written. They thus form a 4 movement group with the first symphony being the exposition, the second being the slow movement, the third being a march-scherzo and the fourth being the epilogue. However each of these symphonies has its own range of movements so linking the 4 symphonies as a listener might be more distracting than useful. Alwyn himself stressed that each symphony had to be 'a satisfactory entity in itself.'

On this well recorded disc from the mid 1970's Alwyn conducts the first and last symphonies of the sequence outlined above. The first symphony is the longer of the two while the fourth is the more compact. The informative sleeve notes are both by Alwyn himself plus Trevor Hold. Alwyn, like Britten, was an excellent conductor of his own work and these two performances have the unmistakable sensation of authenticity. The control of pace and the impact of the dramatic points are all unerringly delivered.

There is also a fine set by Hickox. That is more expensive but the Chandos sound is of demonstration quality and is superior than these discs, fine though they are. Hickox takes a more subjectively dramatic view of the works while Alywyn is just that bit more objective. Hickox is supported by vivid and spectacular playing from the LSO. These two sets are not really in competition as they offer different emphases and either will give considerable satisfaction.

I would suggest that collectors of multiple versions will want to obtain both sets and that is really the best answer in this case. Those interested in just one set could be happy with either and not feel short-changed. This set on Lyrita has a significant price advantage though and that may be the deciding factor.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Authoritative composer-led performances of music of no great individuality 10 Dec 2006
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
As I wrote in my review of the companion disc, containing symphonies # 2, 3 and 5 (Alwyn: Symphonies 2, 3 & 5), this Lyrita CD is a self-commending purchase for the aficionado of Alwyn. Conducted by the composer himself in interpretations recognized as fully authoritative, these recordings from 1975 (symphony #4) and 1977 (Symphony #1) are still sonically state-of-the art. There are other complete recordings of the symphonies, but the one made by Richard Hickox in the early 90s entails the purchase of 5 full-priced Chandos CDs if you want to get the orchestral and concertante pieces that complement each disc, or a 3CD box if you are going for the symphonies alone. The recent one on Naxos with David Lloyd-Jones is also on three, budget-priced CDs, thanks to which you will get also the Sinfonietta for Strings and the Harp concerto "Lyra Angelica". But none of these subsequent recordings can boast, of course, the presence and authority of the composer at the helm.

Now, for those how do not know the music of Alwyn and would like to know what it sounds like before risking a purchase, let they be warned that, even more than on the companion disc, they might not find here a compositional voice of striking originality.

The first symphony (1949) is a highly-charged romantic composition showing a deft hand at orchestration, but couched in an international and rather anonymous idiom full of grandiloquent straussian (in the first movement ; try the passage starting at 8:50) and mahlerian gestures (try 6:50 onwards in the 3rd movement, or the Finale at 8:20, and you might think you were in one of Mahler's adagio finales), often evocative of Vaughan Williams with whiffs of Shostakovich, but even more of film-music - which comes as no surprise, considering Alwyn's training and considerable output in the genre.

In view of the more personal voice found by Alwyn in his thornier 3rd and 5th symphonies, the sunnier 4th (1959) is somewhat of a disappointment. I wrote of his 2nd symphony that it evoked the kind of film music that might have accompanied a Robert Flaherty documentary, and the same holds true with the first movement of the present symphony, while the finale sounds to me like a cheap imitation of a Mahler adagio as some Hollywood film composer could have written it, leading after 6 minutes to more grandiloquent perorations. True, the 2nd movement "Presto vivace" generates considerable excitement, but even there it brings to mind the Presto of Walton's first symphony (with strong hints of Stravinsky's Petrushka, try 1:20 or again 8:20), similar movements in some Tippett symphonies or again the Diaes Irae of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem, without eliciting the same kind of raw, motoric tension as these.

In the touching autobiographical notes presenting his first symphony, Alwyn claims that "originality does not come by rejection of one's heritage but through its acceptance; individuality (or style) is founded on the past.". Well, I can hear how much his music bears on the past (or present - Alwyn's, that is), but the originality is (to my ears) amiss. Don't try Alwyn before you hear the symphonies of Vaughan Williams or Walton, it would be like listening to Hummel before Schubert or Bruch before Brahms. Yet, those with a taste for the music of, say, John Williams, might find more qualities in these symphonies more than I do.
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