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Alwyn: Chamber Music And Songs / Mitchell, Chase, Ball, Turner, Et Al


Release Date: 07/31/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570340   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William Alwyn
Performer:  Madeleine MitchellLucy WildingRoger ChaseAndrew Ball,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The performances on this CD are - as usual from Naxos - of a very high standard and the various performers sound as if they have been playing this music all of their lives.

The enterprising Naxos-Alwyn series continues apace with this satisfying collection of chamber music and songs, ranging from the very start of his career to his penultimate composition. As a professional flautist - he played in the LSO in the 1920s and 1930s, including several performances and recordings under Elgar’s baton - Alwyn’s instrumental compositions display that intimate knowledge of each instrument which comes from being an orchestral player. The Rhapsody for Piano Quartet (1938) begins the disc energetically with its strongly rhythmic
Read more opening. There is a memorable slow central section for muted strings and viola solo before the animated mood returns and the music builds to a lively conclusion.

The Sonata Impromptu for violin and viola (1939) was composed for and dedicated to Frederick Grinke and Watson Forbes, and is unusual in British music of the time for its use of two solo instruments. A brief prelude is followed by a set of variations which display Alwyn’s ability to suggest fuller textures than would be expected from these forces. The Finale alla Capriccio rounds off the piece. From the same year comes the Ballade for viola and piano, also written for Watson Forbes. Lyrical at the outset, the work builds to a more impassioned close.

Alwyn’s skill as a song-writer next: Two Songs for voice, violin and piano, dating from 1931, and Three Songs to Words by Trevor Blakemore from 1940. These demonstrate Alwyn’s sensitivity to word-setting - in the Two Songs, his own poems. These songs are well performed by Welsh baritone Jeremy Huw Williams with Ian Burnside and Madeleine Mitchell.

The Sonatina for violin and piano was composed in 1933 and comprises three contrasting movements in an attractive melodic vein. A cool central episode is framed by a fluid Allegro e grazioso and an ebullient finale.

Three Winter Poems for String Quartet date from 1948 but were not performed until twenty years after the composer’s death. The music eloquently captures the coldness and desolation implied by the title. It is not dissimilar to Delius’s North Country Sketches in that respect. This does not however preclude an element of passion in the central Elegy.

Finally, Alwyn’s Chaconne for Tom, written for the performer on this CD, John Turner, as a tribute to fellow composer Thomas Pitfield. This is a very late work dating from 1982 and is a touching and brief set of variations on Happy Birthday to You, but imbuing that familiar tune with an insubstantial, dreamlike character which the scampering conclusion does not entirely drive away. A small-scale piece but strangely memorable.

The performances on this CD are - as usual from Naxos - of a very high standard and the various performers sound as if they have been playing this music all of their lives. The programme itself is intelligently planned, with three chamber works comprising roughly the first half, followed by the song settings, two further chamber works and finally the late Chaconne.

-- Ewan McCormick, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Rhapsody for Piano Quartet by William Alwyn
Performer:  Madeleine Mitchell (Violin), Lucy Wilding (Cello), Roger Chase (Viola),
Andrew Ball (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; England 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, England 
Notes: Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, England (08/17/2006 - 08/18/2006) 
2. Sonata Impromptu for Violin and Viola by William Alwyn
Performer:  Madeleine Mitchell (Violin), Roger Chase (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; England 
3. Ballade for Viola and Piano by William Alwyn
Performer:  Andrew Ball (Piano), Roger Chase (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; England 
4. Sonatina for Violin and Piano by William Alwyn
Performer:  Andrew Ball (Piano), Iain Burnside (Piano), Madeleine Mitchell (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; England 
5. Songs (2) for Voice, Violin and Piano by William Alwyn
Performer:  Jeremy Huw Williams (Baritone), Iain Burnside (Piano), Madeleine Mitchell (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; England 
6. Songs (3) to words by Trevor Blakemore by William Alwyn
Performer:  Iain Burnside (Piano), Jeremy Huw Williams (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; England 
7. Winter Poems (3) for String Quartet by William Alwyn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; England 

Sound Samples

Rhapsody
Sonata impromptu: I. Prelude
Sonata impromptu: II. Theme and Variations
Sonata impromptu: III. Finale alla capriccio
Ballade
Wood Magic
Wood Magic: Lament of the Tall Tree
3 Songs: No. 1. Nocturne
3 Songs: No. 2. Illumination
3 Songs: No. 3. Harvest
Violin Sonatina: I. Allegro e grazioso
Violin Sonatina: II. Adagio
Violin Sonatina: III. Vivace
3 Winter Poems: No. 1. Winter Landscape
3 Winter Poems: No. 2. Elegy, "Frozen Waters"
3 Winter Poems: No. 3. Serenade, "Snow Shower"
Chaconne for Tom

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