The Alwyn Oboe Sonata was first played at a Royal Academy of Music concert in 1934 by Helen and Lillian Gaskell. The work was well received with the Times reviewer suggesting that it was a “‘true sonata’ that gave each instrument a share in the progress of the music.” Apparently, it was so popular in the late nineteen-thirties that it was included in the BBC Radio Programme – Your Choice for the Week!
The work is written in three unbalanced movements – the first being as long as the last two put together. The first few bars provide most of the material for the remainder of the opening movement. This is signed 'moderato e grazioso’ yet much of the music is actually slow and reflective – perhaps a little untypical for first movement form. It would be disingenuous to talk about ‘cow pats and fences’ – but this movement is pretty close to ‘pastoral imagery’. And there is a definite French feel to this well wrought music that makes it just that little bit more sophisticated than a meditation on the fields around Northampton. Yet there is nothing here to disturb the listener’s peace of mind on a hot summer’s evening.
The second movement is a choral-like ‘andantino’ which continues the mood of the last pages of the ‘moderato’. It is truly lovely music that explores a wide-ranging and lyrical tune. Of course the temper of the music changes and slightly more intense feelings inform the proceedings. Yet the sheer beauty of this movement is never compromised.
The 'allegro' is much livelier than most of what has gone before: it is actually a ‘pastiche’ waltz. However the character of the movement changes towards the end when the soloist indulges in a reflective coda. This is a fine work by one of Britain’s great composers. Yet it is fair to say that few of the ‘typical’ Alwyn fingerprints are found in these pages.
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this appeared as part of a review.
The Alwyn Oboe Sonata is available on HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH08038