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Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 Naxos 8.557648

Composer: William Alwyn

Conductor: David Lloyd-Jones

Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

“My Symphony No. 1 is dedicated to Sir John Barbirolli, who conducted its
first performance at the 1950 Cheltenham Festival. Although the work adheres to
the traditional four-movement symphony its use of germinal seeds already hints
at the new symphonic paths I was to tread in the three symphonies which
followed within the same decade.

The first movement begins pianissimo with a solemn phrase (motif A) on cellos
and basses. Two mysterious notes (motif B) ascend on the woodwind and resolve
into a more extended version on the strings. Almost immediately this groping
fragment is interrupted by a sustained drum-roll and, over a steadily mounting
chord on muted brass the strings repeat a four-note figure with an upward lift
of a ninth (motif C). These are the seeds from which the movement evolves. The
Adagio tempo gradually accelerates to Allegro ritmico. The repeated notes, which
inaugurate it, are obsessional and a recognizable 'thumb-print' in a number
of my works. The Allegro dies away and, after a pause, is followed by motif C
(Andante espressivo) now extended to a long rising tune on the strings, and
further extended by the horn over a pulsing base. The music becomes more and
more passionate and reaches its climax with a return of the Adagio-motif
A proclaimed by the trombones against the background of the full orchestra,
which quickly fades a niente, like a momentary vision of a mountain peak

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  • Store location: North Shore, Auckland, NZ

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