Lyrita concludes Daniel Jones symphonic cycle

This release completes Lyrita’s series of Daniel Jones symphonies. As with the previous volumes, the recordings come from BBC broadcasts. The recording quality — as always — is quite good. And the material, even better.

Welsh composer Daniel Jones had a long-range goal. Each symphony he wrote would be based on a different note the twelve-tone chromatic scale. And each would have a different character, as suggested by that tone. His first symphony premiered in 1945. The twelfth, featured here, in 1985.

The Twelfth Symphony brings the cycle to a close. And it shows Jones’ growth as a composer. The work is compact and concise. It’s a four-movement symphony with a mere 16-minute playing time. Compact it is, but also tightly constructed. Jone’s themes are succinct and perform multiple melodic and harmonic functions.

The performance is a BBC studio recording from 1990. Bryden Thomson conducts the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. The overall sound is a little soft, as I expect from a recording of this vintage. But the performance is crisp and precise. Thomson’s interpretation yields new insights with each hearing.

The Twelfth Symphony completed Jones’ 40-year project. The Thirteenth was a one-off. Jones completed it in 1992, a year before his death. The work was written in memory of a friend. It has an elegiac quality. The capriccioso movement provides some joy, but it’s joy remembered.

Tecwyn Evan conducts the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra in a live 2017 broadcast. The sound quality is excellent, as is the performance.

Also included is “Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life.” Jomes wrote this 1987 cantata also in memory of John Aeron-Thomas. Thomas founded the Swansea Festival and had commissioned Jones’ first symphony. The performance comes from the premiere performance at the Swansea Festival in 1987.

The sound is a little lacking in detail, yet has an appealing warmth to it. Sir Charles Groves conducts the BBC Welsh Chorus and Orchestra. This is an old-school British reading and seems to suit the material quite well.

The album cover is a photograph of Jones raising a pint. It’s an appropriate image for the end of this remarkable series. Cheers, Mr. Jones.

Daniel Jones: Symphonies Nos. 12 &13
Come, my Wy, my Truth, my Life
BBC Welsh Chorus and Orchestra; Bryden Thomson, Charles Groves, conductors
BBC National Orchestral of Wales; Maldwyn Davies, tenor; Tecwyn Evans, conductor
Lyrita SRCD 391

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