Lloyd: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 9

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

George Lloyd’s Second Symphony is a remarkable achievement for a 19-year-old. In terms of structure, it’s loosely based on Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, with its peppy third-movement march (its tune fully worthy of the great Russian composer) and melancholy finale (bluesy rather than hysterically despairing). More importantly, the work shows Lloyd fully in command of his own personal idiom. The orchestration is brilliant without resorting to special effects or extras: it’s just good, colorful instrumental writing in all departments. The first movement shows Lloyd almost uniquely able to write a real, driving classical allegro that sustains its initial pace from beginning to end. And of course, all of the thematic material is instantly memorable.

The promise of the Second is abundantly fulfilled in the Ninth, in which two bright and breezy outer movements bracket an intense central lament. Lloyd was one of the very few composers of his age not afraid to show a sense of humor (the finale pays smiling homage to that of Beethoven’s Fifth without directly copying), nor was he averse to lavishing his considerable talents on music whose character is light and happy. In this respect he sometimes resembles the French composers of Les Six, in whose work a high degree of polish and craftsmanship goes hand in hand with genuine popular appeal. The performances here are outstanding, among the best in Albany’s Lloyd cycle, with sonics to match. Lloyd the conductor does full justice to Lloyd the composer; the color and energy he brings to both works are well-nigh unbeatable. [9/7/2006]

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GEORGE LLOYD - Symphonies Nos. 2 & 9

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