As ever, SOMM and its artists are busy discovering new treasures in a wide range of repertoire and this release featuring first recordings of four of William Alwyn's early String Quartets with the celebrated Tippett Quartet, will come as a delightful surprise.
Alwyn became Professor of Composition at London's Royal Academy of Music in 1926 at the age of 21, a position that he was to retain for almost 30 years. His large corpus of work comes close to 300 works which include music in all genres. His major orchestral works include five symphonies, and concertos for flute, oboe, violin, harp and piano and no less than 200 film scores.
Alwyn began writing music for string quartet in 1920, when he produced his String Quartet in G minor at just fifteen years of age. The years 1923 to 1936 produced a further twelve string quartets (four of which feature on this disc), so fascinated was the composer with this “most intimate of mediums”, as he called it. The four string quartets included here contain some truly memorable and original ideas and have been unjustly neglected after receiving enthusiastic reviews at their respective premieres.
Each of these quartets inhabit quite different sound worlds. No.10 (En voyage) is the most overtly romantic. Alwyn was an avid reader throughout his life and often found inspiration for his creative work as a composer from poetry or a novel he had just read that would suddenly fire his imagination. The single movement Fantasia (No. 12) is the most experimental of the four with Alwyn trying his hand at being more modern and contemporary with romanticism cast to one side for the moment. However, this was not to last as quartets 11 and 13 clearly demonstrate that Alwyn was and would always remain a romantic at heart.
On This Recording
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 10 (En Voyage) – 1. Departure (Adagio e dolente)
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 10 (En Voyage – 2. Sea Birds (Allegro vivace)
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 10 (En Voyage) – 3. The Lonely Waters (Adagio ma non troppo)
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 10 (En Voyage) – 4. Trade Winds (Vivace)
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 11 in B minor – 1. Andante ma non troppo – Allegro con brio – Andante
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 11 in B minor – 2. Andante e semplice
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 11 in B minor – 3. Moderato e quieto
- Alwyn Fantasia (String Quartet No. 12); Allegro con alcuna licenza – A tempo meno mosso – Tranquillo – A Tempo Primo – Cadenza e Recitativo, senza misura – Coda. Andante e molto tranquillo
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 13 – 1. Adagio e largamente e marcato
- Alwyn String Quartet No. 13 – 2. Allegro molto e vivace