David Lloyd-Jones

Alwyn: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3

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"Louis' art is not hard to follow. Louis' art is not hard to swallow."

("Everybody Loves Louis" from Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim) It's not that Alwyn's a simp -- there's heart, soul, and sincerity in his music -- and it's not that Alwyn's simple -- there's more going on thematically than appears on the tonal surface. It's that Alwyn's far more interested in expressing himself so that he can be readily grasped by the listener that makes some people find him so. In his symphonies, Alwyn relentlessly strives to articulate powerful emotions in a wholly comprehensible way, and if his invention seems old-fashioned harmonically and antiquated structurally to some, well, tough: there's more to life than intellectual anguish. In this disc coupling the First and Third symphonies with David Lloyd-Jones leading the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Alwyn has got his sunniest face on. The tunes are memorable, forms are understandable, and the emotional impact is direct and immediate. Whether all listeners will respond to Alwyn's straightforward art is open to debate, but these performances make the case entirely persuasive. The Royal Liverpool is a first-class provincial English Orchestra with clean strings, bright brass, colorful winds, and propulsive percussion. Lloyd-Jones is a masterful conductor with a complete understanding of Alwyn's art. For listeners who already enjoy late Vaughan Williams and think they might enjoy something a little bit but not much edgier, Alwyn is the answer. Naxos' sound is rich, deep, and warm.

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