First heard in 1937, Dyson's Symphony in G is the most ambitious of his orchestral works, so a fine new recording like this is welcome, particularly at super-budget price. In the third movement variations - taking the place of a Scherzo - and most of all in the colourful finale, any inhibitions evaporate in warm, free and colourful writing, echoing that in Dyson's Chaucerian choral work The Cantebury Pilgrims. Helped by clear, well-balanced recording, David Lloyd-Jones conducts a brilliant performance.
Each of the three movements of the Concerto da chiesa for strings of 1949 is based on a medieval hymn melody, with Veni Emmanuel inspiring a darkly dedicated slow first movement. It is among Dyson's finest inspirations, a lament no doubt reflecting his mood after the Second World War. That melody returns transformed at the end of the joyful finale, which is based on the vigorous psalm tune Laetatus sum. The central Allegretto uses the carol-like Corde natus for lightly scored and fanciful variations. As in Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, solo strings are beautifully and atmospherically set against the full string band, enhanced here by fine separation in the Naxos recording. In every way this is a work that deserves to be included among the formidable array of great string works by British composers, a neglected masterpiece.
Edward Greenfield, The Gramophone, 7/1/2005
I find the new versions from David Lloyd-Jones ... vividly characterised, while his recording has greater clarity and is better balanced, bringing out the subtleties of Dyson's counterpoint ... the Concerto da chiesa is a searching and sensitive work founded on psalm-tunes, beautifully expounded by Lloyd-Jones.
Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine, 7/1/2005
Dyson's G major Symphony of 1937 opens with a grand rhetorical flourish that seems to promise great things. The energetic first movement unfolds on a large scale yet manages to be compact as well as expansive, offering a variety of musical material that is delivered with vigour and panache by the always-responsive Bournemouth SO and David Lloyd-Jones. Nor is the music all gushing horns and febrile string-writing; Lloyd-Jones is equally adept at pulling on the reins when the mood becomes more subdued. So, right from the outset, it is clear that we are confronted in Dyson's Symphony with a work of considerable ambition. The four-movement model (Scherzo in third place) is taken over wholesale but with plenty of added twists: the slow movement, for instance, eschews pain or profundity in favour of reflection, via a richly scored theme and variations. The finale threatens to become episodic, combining the reflective musings of the opening (and close) with some more conventional heroics: echoes of Bax, say, or Walton, are present but this is an individual voice, no question.
I have dwelt at some length on the Symphony because it seems to me a work not just of considerable historical importance, but also one that is immensely stimulating in its own right ... Lloyd-Jones includes one of the two string concertos: the Concerto da chiesa elaborates three different liturgical melodies with great ingenuity, and if there are inevitable echoes of Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, that is surely all to the good. In the ripe acoustic I mentioned, the Bournemouth SO, including a well-polished string quartet from the orchestra, delivers a performance of almost lush intensity. There are good notes on the three works and a separate comprehensive biographical note as well. This well-filled CD is a very welcome addition to the now almost comprehensive Dyson discography.
Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, 9/1/2005