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Label:
  Albany - http://www.albanyrecords.com/
Serial:
  TROY-498
Title:
  Lloyd: Symphony No. 4 Lloyd
Description:
  George Lloyd: Symphony No. 4, "Arctic"

Albany Symphony Orchestra
George Lloyd (conductor)
Track listing:
 
Genre:
  Classical - Orchestral
Content:
  Stereo
Media:
  Hybrid
Recording type:
  PCM
Recording info:
 

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Related titles: 3


 
Reviews: 3

Review by wehecht April 25, 2006 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of Albany's first sacd releases, this disc often goes unnoticed because it's a straightfoward stereo only re-issue of an almost 20 year old rbcd. I normally give priority to the music and performance, but since the underlying reason for the sacd reissue must be the presumably improved sound I'll discuss that first(the rbcd has never been out of Albany's catalog). Like other Albany releases featuring the Albany Symphony Orchestra this disc was recorded in the Troy Savings Bank Hall, a smaller but acoustically superb venue. If the engineers know what they're doing any recording made in this hall will sound wonderful, and this one is no exception. As we commonly find in sacd reissues of rbcd originals the sound opens up significantly, timbres are more realistic, and fine dynamic gradations are more easily discerned. All in all a very worthwhile improvement over the already fine original. In fact it's so good that I don't even miss the rear channels.

None of this would matter, of course, if the music was not also special. George Lloyd (1913-1998)was the composer of 12 symphonies, 7 concerti (4 piano, 2 violin, and 1 cello, the last also available on sacd and reviewed elsewhere on this site), several operas, three major works for chorus and orchestra, numerous works for brass band, various chamber and solo works, and finally a Requiem for chorus and organ. All of these works are decidedly romantic in orientation (Lloyd was no "neo" anything, he was a genuine romantic in every sense)though clearly products of the 20th century. In many respects his work carries on where Elgar and then Vaughn Williams left off. The 4th symphony was the first work Lloyd produced after being severely disabled when his ship was torpedoed while on convoy duty in the North Atlantic during world war II. The completion of the score took several years as the composer slowly recuperated from his injuries. It waited 35 years for a first performance because in the post war years Lloyd's style of composition was considered hopelessly out of date (particularly by the BBC). Eventually a change in administration at the BBC led to the work's acclaimed first performance at the Cheltenham festival in 1981 under the composer's early champion Sir Edward Downes. While Lloyd's music still causes controvery because of its old fashionedness, this performance, conducted by the composer, simply could not make a better case for it. It conveys the absolute conviction of all concerned that this is music of great beauty and importance. In my view this life affirming music, written by a man who triumphed over severe hardship deserves the widest possible hearing.

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Review by Peter November 15, 2006 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   
George Lloyd (1913 – 1998) – Symphony No 4 (Arctic) – Albany SO conducted by the composer
Albany TROY 498 (SACD stereo) recorded 7-8 December, 1987 in Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

George Lloyd’s music lay pretty much undiscovered by the postwar listening public until Edward Downes performed the Eighth Symphony on BBC Radio 3 in 1977, and the BBC played the Sixth at the Proms in 1981. Lyrita recorded three of them in the same year, recordings which have yet to appear even on RBCD.

This contrasts with his early successes: his First, written at the age of 19, was performed in 1933 by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, his second in Eastbourne in 1935, the Third following quickly and taken up by the BBC SO. In addition he had success with a brace of operas, “Iernin”, staged at the Lyceum in 1935, and “The Serf” staged at Covent Garden and conducted by Albert Coates when the composer was all of 25 years old.

As I write this, the BBC is having a Lloyd week and many of his compositions are being aired in “Composer of the Week” and “Afternoon Performance”; this will give listeners an opportunity to assess or reassess his oeuvre.

The Fourth Symphony, under discussion here, was written in traumatic circumstances. Lloyd had served in the Marines as a gunner/musician in the Arctic convoys and lived through an attack by a faulty torpedo which blew up his ship. He was rescued after witnessing much drowning in the oily sea of fellow seamen and the combination of poor health, this trauma and shellshock undermined his health severely. His wife, Nancy, nursed him back to a condition where he could write music again, and he completed the Fourth in 1946 and the Fifth in 1948. A third opera, John Socman, was completed for the 1951 Festival of Britain, after which Lloyd became too ill to write any more music until the first of his piano concertos, specifically for John Ogdon.

The symphony has on its title page “A world of darkness, storms, strange colours, and a faraway peacefulness” and is in four movements, lasting in total a little over 65 minutes, the inspiration coming both from an earlier visit to Narvik and his wartime experience. I guess his growing up on the Cornish coast also contributes to the maritime feeling.

The first movement, allegro moderato, is concerned with darkness and storms interspersed with more cheerful motifs. The second, lento tranquillo, depicts an icy seascape though by the end more upbeat and confident than would be expected.

The third, allegro scherzando, is also in rondo form and the last, lento – allegro ma non troppo, weighing in at over twenty minutes, ends the symphony in a rousing and triumphant manner, the whole an enormous achievement for one so stricken in body and in mind.

The Albany SO under the composer perform this symphony extremely well and the recording engineers capture the excellent acoustics of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The recording has been remastered using DSD and is issued in stereo and packaged in a normal SACD case, unlike later reissues in this series.

Comparing the sound with the earlier RBCD release shows considerable improvement over what was already very good sound, the very large orchestra being captured faithfully. I cannot say how much my perceived improvement is due to the mastering or the playing of the disc in SACD mode; all I can say is, it is better.

Coincidentally, I have also been listening to another “war symphony”, in this case Masao Ohki’s Fifth Symphony, “Hiroshima”, written in 1953, and performed by the New Japan Philharmonic under Takao Yuasa and available on Naxos.

The differences in composition style are enormous, the Ohki patently a much more modern work, and definitely using musical idioms of its time. It is also quite rivetting and I certainly recommend its seeking out. The Lloyd is unashamedly late romantic, something for which his postwar compositions have been criticised in some quarters and which led to his neglect by the BBC in particular during the 1960s and much of the 1970s. While his music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it seems scandalous to have denied its accessibility for so many years.

Naxos proudly proclaims that the Ohki disc has been recorded and edited at 24-bit resolution, but has failed to issue it on a high resolution carrier. It seems to me that to expect the musicians to perform to 100% and then not issue the recording on the best possible carrier is somewhat insulting.

Albany deserves all praise for reissuing this work in its best sound yet. I recommend it very highly to those who will enjoy its late-romantic, somewhat nostalgic flavour.

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Review by madisonears January 9, 2008 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Whether this recording is analog or digital, made yesterday or 20 years ago is no matter; it is stunning in every respect. Spacious and smooth, with a fullness and depth that ranks it among the very best, this is truly state-of-the-art stereo. The music deserves such treatment, as it is beautiful and emotional, well-structured and tuneful, and played very well. I guess I'm just a romantic at heart, and this pushed all my buttons. This deserves a much wider audience.

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Works: 1  

George Lloyd - Symphony No. 4 "Arctic"