DANIEL JONES (1912-1993): Symphony No. 12 (BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra; Bryden Thomson. Studio recording broadcast March 22, 1990), Symphony in memory of John Fussell (Symphony No. 13 - BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Tecwyn Evans. Live concert broadcast Jan. 23, 2017), Come,my Way, my Truth, my Life (Maldwyn Davies [baritone], BBC Welsh Chorus and Orchestra; Charles Groves. Swansea Festival broadcast Oct. 10, 1987).
Catalogue Number: 11X008
Description: This release concludes this most valuable complete survey of Jones' symphonic output. His symphonies each have a distinct identity and contour - the composer disliked any suggestion of repeating himself either between works or within them - but all are carved from the same stern, no-nonsense, entirely tonal material, accompanied by restless, incessant metrical changes (very much a Jones trademark), and effective, weighty orchestration tailored to present the flow of argument and interaction of ideas with minimal coloristic distraction - he even declared himself "anti- impressionistic". Later in life he strove for greater succinctness in his symphonies - he became " … convinced of the value of conciseness in a symphony … One should say what one has to say and shut up." The 12th (1985), which he apparently anticipated being his last, is a perfect example of this; a tough, tersely argued example of pure symphonic argument in traditional four-movement form. A tranquil but expectant introduction gives way to a taut sonata allegro culminating in a stormy development and a gradual return to the mood of the opening. The second movement is a brief scherzo, bold , quick-witted, jocular and earthy. This is followed by the slow movement, marked "Serioso", and mysterious and suggestive of some mythic tragedy in mood. A short "Risoluto" finale brings the work’s thematic and harmonic conflicts to a decisive conclusion. The work that brought Jones out of symphonic "retirement" in 1992 is as powerful an utterance as anything in his canon, no doubt resulting from its rôle as a deeply memorial to his friend and champion, the organist John Fussell. The first movement is solemn and tragic, with a remarkable introduction that seems to channel the mysterious "awakening" opening of Mahler 3, colored by the ominous rattling of the marimba. The movement is monumental in its mourning, dark and funereal in mood. The scherzo is capricious and characteristically rhythmically unpredictable, and bears an odd resemblance to the central fast movement of Suk's "Asrael" symphony. After a mysterious introduction consisting of mournful woodwind solos and distant horn calls, the middle section of the slow movement is a funeral cortège in quintuple time, approaching and receding with stately, heavy tread. The symphony culminates in a remarkable finale, which begins as an agitated, brusque, angry allegro, but soon takes on a deeply moving personal aspect with an extended quotation from Jones' "Prelude: A Refusal to Mourn" for organ, which Fussell had performed; first in orchestral transcription, then on organ, appearing for the first time in the work. The orchestra joins the organ to expand the work’s timbral horizons in a blazing conclusion. The cantata Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life (1987) sets texts by George Herbert (1593-1633), selected to chart a spiritual journey, from uncomplicated, impassioned love of Christ, via rebellion and doubt, despair, the regaining of faith and a final triumphant hymn of praise. The unparalleled lucidity of expression of the Metaphysical Poets clearly appealed to Jones, with his concern for directness of utterances and unequivocal communication with his audience, and this combination here finds voice in a powerful work of deeply moving content and richness of expression.