WORKS: Concerto for String Orchestra; Divertimento for Chamber Orchestra; Elegiac Rhapsody; Concertante pastorale; Suite for Recorder; Light Music for Strings
PERFORMER: John Turner (recorder); Conrad Marshall (flute); Rebecca Goldberg (horn); Northern CO/David Lloyd-Jones
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553567
Alan Rawsthorne is one of those major talents among British composers, who has always lurked on the fringes of the repertory because of a certain lack of exposure. But he wrote some distinguished music and undoubtedly deserves to be better known. This Naxos issue is therefore particularly welcome, since it includes no fewer than three premiere recordings.
The Concerto for Strings (1949) is strongly argued and skilfully written, including the benefit of an imposing opening. The Concertante Pastorale (1951) has the unusual combination of flute, horn and strings. Rawsthorne described it as ‘a piece for a summer evening’, and there are beautifully evocative touches, not least in the magical closing phase. The Divertimento (1962), for Harry Blech and the London Mozart Players, is fluent and charming, containing a Lullaby of real tenderness.
The Suite for Recorder, orchestrated by John McCabe, is slight, whereas the Elegiac Rhapsody is altogether more penetrating, with a wide range of expression and technique. The Light Music, on Catalan themes, is pure delight; and so too is this disc, which is both valuable and thoroughly enjoyable. Rawsthorne is well served by Lloyd-Jones, his orchestra and the Naxos engineers, whose recording is clear, well-balanced and atmospheric. Terry Barfoot