Richard Hickox

Dyson: Symphony in G; At the Tabard Inn; In Honour of the City

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Harmless fun: for better or worse, these two words aptly describe the innocuous works of George Dyson on this Chandos reissue. If festive British music -- in the characteristic veins of pastoral lyricism and regal pomp -- is required, then At the Tabard Inn and In Honour of the City fill the bill nicely, especially since they are played with all the mellowness and grandeur the London Symphony Orchestra can muster. However, if music of greater intellectual substance and emotional depth is sought, one might turn hopefully to the Symphony in G -- claimed by some admirers as Dyson's masterpiece -- for something worthwhile must happen in its 44 minutes. The first movement is promising in its energetic propulsion and fairly clear sonata structure, but the rest of the symphony seems carelessly padded and amateurishly loose. Dyson seems merely to have strung together several colorful episodes without a clear plan or sense of trajectory, and the whole essay falls apart through his meandering approach. Yet the symphony can still be appreciated as a series of evocative tone pictures, and Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia paint these scenes with radiant sonority and emotional sympathy. Chandos provides excellent sound quality, so the disc is most enjoyable in this regard.

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