Alwyn: Violin Concerto; Fanfare for a Joyful Occasion; Miss Julie Suite (arr. Lane)

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Alwyn
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Fanfare for a Joyful Occasion; Miss Julie Suite (arr. Lane)
PERFORMER: Lorraine McAslan (violin); Royal Liverpool PO/David Lloyd-Jone
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570705

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Alwyn’s Violin Concerto is a Cinderella among his larger works. Henry Wood wanted it performed in the 1943 Proms season, the BBC didn’t, and after a single private performance with Alwyn himself accompanying in a violin-and-piano arrangement, he never heard his Concerto again. Although this is its second recording, it still has not been publicly performed. Much of it certainly isn’t vintage Alwyn: as ever, the craftsmanship and technique are superbly sure, but compared to the haunting and beautiful central Allegretto e semplice, the outer movements lack the composer’s characteristic sharp-focus individuality. Lorraine McAslan makes a convincing case for the work: fearsome weight of tone is not her style, but she has bravura and accuracy to spare, and her musicianship’s brand of thoughtful loveliness suits the slow movement beautifully. 
 
Of the two other works, the Fanfare of 1964 is an unmemorable creation for brass and percussion. Much more interesting is Philip Lane’s selection of music from the August Strindberg-based opera Miss Julie, completed in 1976. The idiom here is sharply dramatic, with brilliantly focused contrasts of tone and mood, showcasing Alwyn’s Prokofiev-like virtuoso conjuring with waltz and polka dance-rhythms. David Lloyd-Jones and the RLPO respond in suitably vivid style. Malcolm Hayes