Alan Rawsthorne Symphonies 1-3 (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: David Lloyd-Jones) Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Conductor David Lloyd-Jones's approach is thoughtful and serious.

Claire Rogers 2005

Although Alan Rawsthorne had some earlier successes as a composer it wasn't until the post-war period, when he was in his early 40s, that he really began to produce his most important works. His three symphonies date from this period, and span some fourteen years of his development.

If you've heard the symphonies of Elgar, Walton and Vaughan Williams, these should certainly be next on your list, and the impressive Third Symphony especially deserves to be heard more often. Conductor David Lloyd-Jones's approach is thoughtful and serious, but not over-dramatic, drawing control and detail from all sections of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. They respond with some fine, committed playing, a testament to the fine quality of this orchestra.

There are some excellent wind solos - listen for example to the First Symphony's 2nd movement - and also some classy violin solos from the leader, David Nolan, notably in the finale of the same symphony. The great rhythmic drive of the orchestra as a whole is particularly noticeable in the Third Symphony's 'Country Dance' movement. Although the disc hurls us headlong into the turbulence of its opening movement without any kind of introduction, there are moments of mesmerising beauty here too. Rawsthorne's Sarabande to the Third Symphony shows him at his most haunting and inspired, and it's in this final symphony that his mastery of orchestration reaches a colourful peak, the Allegro risoluto finale providing a powerful climax to the disc.

This impressive Naxos recording is well-balanced with a wide, authentic dynamic range. The percussion are especially well-recorded; the brass sound warm and the strings have a velvety sheen. It's a great CD featuring good music and first class performances. I can't think of a single reason not to buy it.

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