|Review by Peter November 16, 2006 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
|George Lloyd (1913 – 1998) – Symphony No 11 – Albany SO conducted by the composer
TROY060 (SACD stereo and multi-channel) recorded 3-4 November, 1986 in Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
This review appears as the second contribution to George Lloyd week.
The production of Lloyd’s opera “John Socman” was fraught with problems and difficulties. Composed to be performed during the “Festival of Britain” in 1951 by the Carl Rosa Opera Company, it suffered from amongst other things the producer and conductor, Arthur Hammond, not being on speaking terms. Edward Downes, a young man then in his first post in opera, acted as mediator during the squabbles. The stress caused by this, the feeling that no-one was interested in his music any longer and the death of his father caused Lloyd’s health to fail again and he wrote no more for some time, devoting his energies to recuperation and growing produce in his market garden in Dorset.
The Sixth Symphony appeared in 1956, a short work of some 23 minutes, the Seventh of 1957 – 1959 is considered to be his masterpiece, and the Eighth and Ninth in the 1960s by which time a little more interest was being shown in his works. John Ogdon took a great interest in the first piano concerto of 1963 performing it in Liverpool with Sir Charles Groves the next year. Groves and Downes continued to champion Lloyd’s music, and the breakthrough finally came in 1977 with a performance in Manchester under Downes of the Eighth. Suddenly, Lloyd and tonal late-romantic music were once again in vogue and even allowed to be talked about in polite society at the BBC.
The Eleventh Symphony was written in 1985 and first performed and then recorded in Albany the following year. Lasting about an hour, it is in five movements. The first – vivo – starts with a wake-up call, a nautical reveille I can’t help feeling, one of the big, bold statements Lloyd is so good at making. Research tells me that this is followed by a 12 tone row, though I failed abysmally to spot this; the reason may be due to Lloyd’s careful choosing of the sequence of notes to give a tune with which he was happy, though I can’t help feeling it’s all part of the Lloyd sense of humour. Three much shorter movements follow, a single-themed and gentle Lento, a Scherzo marked leggiero e brillante with Trio and a fourth marked grave. While elegaic it is also upbeat, though with the muffled drums of a funeral march, perhaps Lloyd burying his war-time demons.
The fifth movement – Finale: con esultazione – opens with a flourish and harks back to the first, even hinting at the tone row again and ends with the sort of triumphant coda pregnant with percussion, one of Lloyd’s fingerprints.
The orchestra for whom this symphony was composed, the Albany SO, perform it here with brilliance and commitment and are a credit to their conductor, the composer. The recording producer and engineer, none other than Andrew Cornall and John Dunkerley did the occasion proud, and Albany have remastered this with DSD for an SACD re-release with surround sound (I listened only in stereo) in noticeably improved sonics over the original release.
I await my copy of the SACD of the next in this series, yet to appear in the UK, the First and Twelfth, his last, from 1933 and 1990 with eager anticipation, and in the meantime recommend this release very strongly.
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