British Music

On a recent weekend break in the Cotswolds – that delightful stretch of country from Bath to the South Midlands- we came across an advert for a concert in Cheltenham. The programme included works by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, but it was William Alwyn’s third Symphony that caught my attention. He is one of many British composers of the last century who are now largely forgotten, rarely performed, but continue to interest me.

The twentieth century witnessed a musical renaissance in this country, but many attractive works are now rarely played, squeezed out of the frame by the more famous trio of Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and William Walton. I wish I could have been in Cheltenham to hear its own local orchestra rediscover an otherwise lost work. I have been listening again to my CD of Alwyn’s two piano concertos, the soloist the adventurous Peter Donohue who has done so much for rarely preformed music. They are lovely works, with orchestral brilliance and memorable melodies.

In searching for information about Alwyn, who composed five symphonies, incidental music and the scores for nearly two hundred British films, I discovered Len Mullinger’s brilliant website with its expert reviews of many CD’s as well as special offers of discs, some of which are no longer available. I sent off for one of these, a double album of British Music which celebrates the 50 years which the small and adventurous company Lyrita devoted to music rarely performed and liable otherwise to be forgotten. I had several L.P.’s on the label, the performances by mainly London orchestras with foremost conductors of their day or under the baton of the composers themselves, in excellent recordings supervised by the Decca company. The two albums with nearly ten hours of music on them, arrived today.

I’m conscious that these blogs originated as ‘Spanish Classical Music’, and especially in their Spanish translation, unsuspecting bloggers whilst able to cope with mainstream European music, would find an enthusiastic advocate of music unlikely to be heard in any concert hall in Spain or anywhere else, less tolerable.

So I will go carefully!