Although best known for the edgy modernism of his three symphonies, this disc by David Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic proves that there were other sides to English composer Alan Rawsthorne. He's a bon vivant in the insouciant Street Corner Overture, an ardent imperialist in the mighty Coronation Overture, a stylistic chameleon in elusive Madame Chrysanthème Ballet Suite, and a drop-dead funny entertainer in Practical Cats, his setting for narrator and orchestra of T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." Rawsthorne is equally impressive in every incarnation in these performances. With swagger and panache, Lloyd-Jones leads the Liverpool musicians in a dryly demotic Street Corner Overture, a drolly ironic Ballet Suite, a brilliantly rousing Coronation Overture, and a wild and witty Practical Cats that, while it probably won't exceed Andrew Lloyd Webber's settings of the same poems in terms of popular success, may still outdistance Cats in skill and cunning. More typical of Rawsthorne's familiar angular modernist manner is the cogent and dramatic Theme, Variations & Finale and the spare and inspiring Medieval Diptych featuring stentorian baritone Jeremy Huw Williams. Recorded in rich, colorful, and detailed sound by Dutton, this disc should be heard by every Rawsthorne fan and by any fans of postwar English music.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Madame Chrysanthème, suite from the ballet|
|Practical Cats, for narrator & orchestra|
|Medieval Diptych, for baritone & orchestra|