Although best known for his film music, William Alwyn composed five symphonies (among other concert works). Symphony No. 1 unsurprisingly marries symphonic form to an engaging dramatic narrative. The first movement's slow, quiet introduction is pregnant with anticipation of the conflict to come, while the moving Adagio features one of those irresistibly hummable movie-style tunes. And connoisseurs of classic film cannot help but conjure cinematic images as they listen to Alwyn's triumphant, brassy Allegro jubilante finale. But even without such associations, the First is a fine symphony in its own right.
The three-movement Symphony No. 3 is even more compelling. Alwyn states that he used a "new kind of 12-noteRead more system", but the resulting music is certainly not atonal. Indeed, much of it has a modal quality similar to Vaughan Williams--a similarity that extends to the music's formal plan, warlike character, and sometimes even the orchestration (the brass writing in the first movement, and the woodwind/string interplay of the finale's "scherzo" section)--all of which are reminiscent of that composer's Sixth Symphony. But Alwyn's own voice predominates, and the symphony is enjoyable for its powerfully argued rhetoric and taut thematic construction. Conductor David Lloyd-Jones certainly believes in this music, as he demonstrates in these winning performances with the excellent Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Naxos provides first-rate sound.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1by William Alwyn Conductor:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1949; England Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England Length: 38 Minutes 29 Secs. Notes: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England (08/02/2004 - 08/04/2004)
Symphony no 3by William Alwyn Conductor:
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1955-1956; England Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England Length: 30 Minutes 21 Secs. Notes: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England (08/02/2004 - 08/04/2004)
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Rousing Symphonies From The 1950'sSeptember 6, 2016By owen ryan (lakewood, CA)See All My Reviews"Alwyn is well known for the 200+ scores he wrote for the movies but he composed art music that deserves to be better known. These two symphonies were premiered in 1950 and 1956, respecively. Symphony No. 1 is Romantic in style; a rather traditional and mannered work. Between the gentle adagios of the first and third movememts there is a lively allegro. It ends in a brassy rousing finale. Cinematic touches are sprinkled throughout the work. The Third Symphony is a more modern work. Alwyn wrote ''In my Third Symphony I use a new kind of twelve note system, the twelve notes used in a different way--in a tonal manner. I retain the concord and discord and relate them to key and tonality. It is a stormy and passionate work, strongly rhythmic in the outer movements but finding tranquillity and repose in the middle movement and in the closing pages of the finale.'' If you haven't heard these works you've missed something good."Report Abuse
Excellent 20th Century British SymphoniesFebruary 28, 2013By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Clearly sympathetic to their fellow countryman, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra gives a glowing account of 2 very fine symphonies by the 20th century English composer William Alwyn. Alwyn's music becomes steadily more challenging as the symphonies develop, alternating brassy aggressiveness with pastoral, quiet interludes. My initial reactions to hearing this disk were highly positive, and I am sure this distincly British sound world will find favor with anyone seeking to explore new ground in 20th century music. I encourage everyone who likes serious music to give this one a try- you won't be disappointed."Report Abuse