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Alwyn - April Morn

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Affinity, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    Out of all the impressionistic British composers that flourished in the mid-20th century, William Alywn isn't really as well-known as Bliss, Bowen, or Bax as he seemed more in tune with the film music genre. But this set of minatures (composed as ABRSM grade exam pieces) are really charming (No. 4 even has a bit of round-the-posey with it or something). Well, enjoy, and as usual, comments are much appreciated.

    Alwyn - April Morn, No.1 "A Lost Lamb"

    Alwyn - April Morn, 2. "April Showers"

    Alwyn - April Morn, No. 3 "Bluebells"

    Alwyn - April Morn, No. 4 "Violets"
     
  2. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    You seem well-versed in the English composers. Alwyn is not a name that comes up often, even if, as you say, he wrote extensively for the cinema (The Red Pirate, for example). I have heard many of his works, mainly his symphonies, some chamber music and an opera, Miss Julie, which struck me as being a bit sordid.

    But you have shown me another apect of this composer and you are quite right and these are charming pieces and even their shortness does not distract from their quality (the way that Rebikov's pieces do). The playing to me seems perfectly adapted to this genre and I have enjoyed them, Bluebells perhaps more than the others.
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I've not heard of William Alwyn before, but I really liked this music! Very nice harmonies and interesting rhythms. I loved the chord changes near the end of no.3! And no. 4 reminds me of Scriabin.
    You played them well, Jonathan! I've put them in the 'various composer' table. If you plan on doing any more from the set, then we'll have to make a page for Alwyn. At least for now you don't have to write a bio... :wink:

    One more thing - your title was a little turned around: you should put the name of the set first, followed by the name of the specific piece. Also, your name on the tags should show your whole name Jonathan Yeo, not the other way you had it. I fixed these things though (I'm procrastinating.....trying to do some recording of my own today, but I'm getting too frustrated :x ).
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    These short works are refreshing to the ears. Although I've not heard them previously, your playing is very convincing. Thanks for sharing these pieces with us.

    David
     
  5. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    Well, actually, I only know a handful of their piano works, Bowen most of all. It's quite amazing that you managed to hear so many of his works though... do they perform them occasionally in Europe? Any recommendations for his chamber works?

    Thanks a lot for the comments. Yeah, there's a sort of mild, fragrant impressionism to the set which is really attractive. I like Bluebells a lot too, though I'm at a loss as to how No.4 could remind you of Scriabin. >_> As for the set, there are only 4 pieces; however, the second one is a rather tricky and elf-like presto piece which will take some time, don't think I'll be doing that any time soon! Will keep the tag thingy in mind next time.

    Thanks for the comments. I'm quite amazed myself by the spiritual youthfulness of these pieces...
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's because I meant Ravel...hehe
     
  7. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    That is because at home we had more recordings of English than German composers, just to give you an idea, so I know quite a lot of them.

    I have a Naxos CD with his chamber music, but right offhand I cannot recommend anything, as I need to listen to it again.
     
  8. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Jonathan,

    I had a listen to your recordings, these sound good. I haven't heard of Alwyn until now, but think you do a good job of phrase-shaping and dynamics. Any plans to play the other pieces in April Morn?
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Charming stuff, and very well played. Thanks for presenting some more British piano music, an area still woefully neglected. There are so many splendid composers out there. I like to tap into that rich vein now and then, and am glad some others do so now, too.
    I'd love to hear some more substantial Alwin piano pieces though.
     
  10. musicrecovery

    musicrecovery Member Piano Society Artist

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    These pieces remind me of the MacDowell Woodland Sketches. They are descriptive and very well crafted.

    The playing is very good. There is a nice feeling of movement in the "Bluebells" and "Violets". The anxiety in "A Lost Lamb" is conveyed. My impression of the playing without knowing the score is that there is a lot of attention to dynamics, phrasing and pedaling.

    Congratulations on such a well thought out recording

    - Kaila
     
  11. OpenGoldberg

    OpenGoldberg New Member

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    This comes from one of my favorite periods of British music, and introduces me to a new composer. Once again, a confirmation of the vast richness of our musical heritage, and a validation that it is worth one's while digging into the crevices to pull out forgotten works.
     
  12. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Affinity,
    Very well played!
    Thanks for introducing me to this composer. I was intrigued enough to read his bio on Wikipedia, and the fact that he had turned "Miss Julie" into an opera jumped out at me.
    richard66 said that it struck him as "sordid" - that's because it was probably the most sordid play written in the 19th century. (It's by Strindberg.) I wonder if this choice for one's only opera says something.
    Beginning a suite entitled "April Morn" with that sad piece about a lost lamb might also be telling - as if the composer wants us to remember that many a bright day has a wicked lining.
     
  13. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    My piano is going to be changed pretty soon, so I thought to finish the remaining piece of the set as some sort of memorial. I've uploaded it in the opening post; do enjoy and comment if you can. It's sort of cute.

    Also, thank you very much for all the comments from so long ago. A more impressionistic Woodland Sketches without the 'American-ness' does sound like an appropriate comparison. And as for more substantial Alwyn pieces, I believe Naxos has a couple of albums of his music played by Ashley Wass. Certainly worth a look, though they aren't as beguiling as these in general.
     
  14. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    (After hearing #2).
    Very cute piece and nicely played.
    Picky: I'll tell you what I told someone else earlier today. I recommend that recordings have maybe a second of silence to begin, because you don't know what will be programmed before it. Perhaps the recording before yours will have no silence at the end, and the listener will be confused by the catenation.
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very nice indeed, if maybe a little shallow, and very competently played. Agree with Stu, there should always be 1-3 seconds of silence before and after a recording.
    Now that the set is complete, I feel that we need an Alwyn page. Any volunteers ?
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's a neat piece. I like the ending!
    I've processed the file, Jonathan, and will put it on the main site tomorrow. One thing though....from now on, please use a compression rate under 192. It helps to save bandwidth.

    And I think you should be the one to actually write the bio, since Alwyn is sort of your baby. We'll make the page once we have it. :)
     
  17. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    Thanks. I'll keep the 1-3 second silence and the bitrate compression in mind the next time I submit a recording.

    As for the Alwyn bio, hmm. :? Will try and get it done the next week.
     
  18. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I am a bit late, Johathan, but I took time to listen to this! Of the whole set I find this one the lesser one, though you do a good job in playing it. I can understand why you did not submit it with the others, but decided to practise a bit more.

    I hope you mean you are kissing this piano goodbye because you have a better one now.

    Your recording seems improved too and the piano sounds much more like a piano, which, of course, it is!
     
  19. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    hi, Jonathan!

    this is a very nice music I haven't heard before. never heard about this Alwyn. good to know.
    thanks!
     
  20. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    Bio:

    William Alwyn was born at Northampton in 1905. He studied the flute, the piano, and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, and ultimately taught composition there from 1926 (at the age of 21) to 1955. He wrote a number of orchestral works and film scores, most notably those for Odd Man Out and The Fallen Idol, as well as four operas.

    His approach to composition is essentially impressionistic, and he is often identified with the British impressionists, such as Sir Arnold Bax, Frank Bridge, and John Ireland. While not quite as well-known as his peers, he assimilated a wide range of musical idioms, dabbling in serialism (in his Third Symphony), neo-classicism, and jazz, which show through in his compositions.

    He died at Suffolk in 1985, and is survived by his second wife, the composer Doreen Carwithen.
     

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