Sunday, January 29, 2012

Constant Lambert conducts Alan Rawsthorne

Alan Rawsthorne
Constant Lambert and Alan Rawsthorne, who were friends and drinking companions, shared not only the same year of birth (1905) but also a passion for cats and fish, and even the same wife!  (Not at the same time, of course.  Lambert died 20 years before Rawsthorne, who then married his widow, the painter Isabel Nicholas.)  It probably did no harm to their friendship that their compositional styles were utterly dissimilar.  Rawsthorne's music sounds to me like a kind of English Hindemith, neoclassical and a little dry at times, while Lambert's (to judge from the two works I know, "The Rio Grande" and the Piano Concerto) seems more like an English Gershwin.  Certainly Lambert the conductor was a persuasive advocate for the music of his friend, and he in fact made the first recordings of any of Rawsthorne's orchestral works, which I present here:

Rawsthorne: Symphonic Studies (1939) and
Rawsthorne: "Street Corner" Overture (1944)
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert
Recorded March 28 and 29, 1946
HMV C 3542 through 3544, and C 3502, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 69.36 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 29.7 MB)


  1. I have not heard much by Rawsthorne but decided to pursue his works further after being blown over by his String Quartets on a modern recording on the label ASV. Would you by any chance have these by historical ensembles? Like your comment on both Lambert and AR being ladies' men. Indeed, Lambert and Margot Fonteyn had a long relationship, which she broke up as a result of his drinking. I knew Margot well in her late years but she never mentioned her many youthful pranks. At least not to me who was then in my early 20's.

  2. Thanks, Bryan - I have been searching for this Lambert-conducted Rawsthorne, and here you had it all the time. I missed it when posted.