“Alwyn (whose centenary year fell in 2005) is a composer of strong communicative gifts and the best of his music exhibits a disarming emotional candour, generous lyricism, powerful sense of argument and superior craftsmanship.
If not as tautly constructed as, say, the Second, Third or Fifth Symphonies, the Second Piano Concerto undoubtedly makes pleasurable listening.
It was commissioned for the 1960 Proms, where its big-boned theatricality and unabashed ardour would surely have gone down a treat had the dedicatee, the Dutch virtuoso Cor de Groot, not been struck down by sudden paralysis of his right arm. As a consequence, the work remained unheard until Howard Shelley's passionate 1993 Chandos recording with Hickox and the LSO. If anything, Peter Donohoe proves an even more dashing soloist and he is supported to the hilt by James Judd and an audibly fired-up Bournemouth SO. An airy, tastefully balanced production, too.
Similarly, these accomplished newcomers set out a most persuasive case for the much earlier, single- movement First Concerto, a likeable offering with echoes of Ireland and Walton, written in 1930 for Alwyn's fellow RAM graduate and good friend, Clifford Curzon.
Canny programming allows us to hear the bustling 1960 overture Derby Day that Alwyn fashioned as a replacement for the ill-starred Second Concerto. Judd's spry performance is in every way the equal of both its fine predecessors, and the disc concludes with the exuberant Sonata alla toccata. This was composed in 1945- 46 for Denis Matthews and Donohoe dispatches it with purposeful aplomb and dazzling technical prowess. Yet another Naxos winner.”