Alwyn: Prelude & ‘Derrybeg Fair’ from The Fairy Fiddler

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COMPOSERS: Alwyn,Joubert,Martelli
LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Joubert: Symphony No. 2; Martelli: Symphony, Op. 4; Alwyn: Prelude & ‘Derrybeg Fair’ from The Fairy Fiddler
PERFORMER: Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates

Dutton’s latest excursion into the byways of English music – English-resident, South-African-born in John Joubert’s case – has come up with an intriguing mix. Joubert’s Second Symphony was written in 1971, in response to the Sharpeville massacre 11 years earlier. Its single-movement design, incorporating traditional African melodies in a way that neither jars nor condescends, grows from a slow opening fugato (impressive material here) towards a restless central Allegro vivace (this is rather less striking). Before its final reprise comes a Zulu lament, memorably voiced by a solo horn accompanied by strings. 
The Prelude and ‘Derrybeg Fair’ sequence from William Alwyn’s unfinished opera, The Fairy Fiddler, displays the composer’s trademark focused technique. More surprising is its mid-1920s date. Aged 20, Alwyn had already discovered his own musical voice, attractively deployed here to evoke the opera’s Irish setting.
Carlo Martelli’s three-movement Symphony of 1954 was written when he was even younger, as a 19-year-old Royal College of Music student. The music’s confidence and clarity justify its revival. Martin Yates secures excellent performances of all three works. Martelli’s Symphony gets a particularly fine response from every section of the RSNO. Malcolm Hayes.