- Symphony No. 1
- Symphony No. 2 ("A Pastoral Symphony")
- Symphony No. 3
Like Brahms, Alan Rawsthorne came late to the symphony, and approached it with a high-minded concern for structure and a mature sense of thematic development and internal unity. In Rawsthorne's practiced hands, the form is shaped along Classical lines, with only slight changes in the layout of the traditional four movements. Yet his music is restless, rugged, and muscular, and quite modern in its free uses of tonality. The pugnacious "Symphony No. 1" (1950) is tight in construction and direct in argumentation, without any extraneous material to retard its headlong progress. The short "Symphony No. 2, A Pastoral Symphony" (1959), is more evocative than programmatic, yet Rawsthorne's lyrical expressions still have the propulsion and dramatic contrasts required in a symphony. The vocal finale, though, seems tacked on, and soprano Charlotte Ellet's rather operatic performance is a little disconcerting. The "Symphony No. 3" (1964) is the most expansive and harmonically daring, and of the three works most successful in reconciling the modernist vernacular with symphonic discourse -- without an obvious tonal scheme but with a real sense of departure and arrival. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, is energetic and spectacular at the climaxes, and Naxos provides its usual fine sound quality.