DANIEL JONES (1912-1993): Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 11.
Catalogue Number: 08T001
Description: As we observed when we eagerly announced the first volume in this welcome and long overdue series (01S001), Jones' splendid cycle of 13 symphonies may well be considered among the finest such opus from 20th century Britain. The Second is similarly grandly proportioned to the First, also in traditional four-movement form, tonal, expertly employing a very large orchestra and amply fulfilling the composer's view that a symphony should be "a dramatic structure with an emotive intention". This was the first large-scale work in which he fully explored his concept of restless, irregular compound meters which lend the music a sense of rhythmic drive while retaining the formal symmetry which was important to him. The first movement, in sonata form, is aggressive and discursive; Jones' symphonies are serious works, generally avoiding the lightweight, pastoral or impressionistic. Even the lyrical second subject is tense and uneasy. The slow movement starts gently enough, but soon plays itself into a brooding landscape with the granitic ruggedness of Havergal Brian at his sternest, and something of the gloom of Sibelius' darkling crepuscular forests. The scherzo is energetic, with grinding dissonances at its climaxes and biting bitonality; the trio is the first reposeful music in the symphony. The finale is boisterous and playful, though on a muscular scale, with episodes of broad good humor and a tumultuous conclusion that revisits material from the first movement. In his later symphonies, Jones sought increasing economy and brevity, while maintaining the same basic idiom and above all, expressive force, of his earlier essays in the form. The Eleventh is less than half the length of the Second, less complex and clearer of texture and harmony; however its four movements - intensivo, capriccioso, elegiaco and risoluto - chart a similar dramatic arc. BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra; Bryden Thomson.