WILLIAM ALWYN: Piano Music, Vol. 1 = Sonata alla toccata, Green Hills, Cricketty Mill, Prelude and Fugue formed on an Indian Scale, Haze of Noon, Harvest Home, Fancy Free, April Morn, Fantasy Waltzes – Ashley Wass, piano – Naxos

by | Jan 12, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

WILLIAM ALWYN: Piano Music, Vol. 1 = Sonata alla toccata, Green Hills, Cricketty Mill, Prelude and Fugue formed on an Indian Scale, Haze of Noon, Harvest Home, Fancy Free, April Morn, Fantasy Waltzes – Ashley Wass, piano – Naxos 8.570359, 74:14 ****:

British composer Alwyn, who died in 1985, was a fine pianist and composed over 150 pieces for the piano during his lifetime.  Some were educational pieces of pedagogy and others were for concert performance by himself and others. Several of the pieces on this CD are herewith receiving their recording premieres.

The opening Sonata is essentially romantic in spirit in spite of adopting a neo-classic stance. Its three movements run about ten minutes, it has interesting cross-rythms and a smashing Presto conclusion. The short pieces before the final major selection run the gamut of light piano pieces to deeper impressionistic sketches. The final 36-minute work is the striking Fantasy Waltzes – 11 virtuoso piano pieces which deserve a prominent place in today’s piano repertory. The waltzes for piano of Chopin and Ravel are obvious models here, but Alwyn goes further in creating new concepts based on the familiar 3/4 rhythm. The Seventh is almost like a funeral cortege, and the 11th is a brilliant lighter piece ending with a sparkling finale. These are the piece de resistances of the album.

 – John Sunier

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