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William Turner Walton (1902-83)

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Walton & Rubbra - Viola Concertos

Walton & Rubbra - Viola Concertos


Rubbra:

Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn for solo viola, Op. 117

first recording

Viola Concerto in A major, Op. 75

Walton:

Viola Concerto

original version (1928/9)


“It is good to welcome a modern recording of Walton's Viola Concerto in its original orchestration. Lawrence Power serves the work superbly, with subtler detail than Lars Ansers Tomter (Naxos, 5/96) and a lighter vibrato than Nobuko Imai adopts (Chandos, 4/93). ...the two Rubbra items here are welcome. The Meditations on a Byzantine Theme, the first recording in the version for unaccompanied viola, makes an apt extra.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2007

“…Lawrence Power's… playing is stunningly precise, crisply articulated and beautifully projected, with no hint of the little scrambles and occasionally pinched tone that beset even quite famous rival recordings.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2007 *****

“In the 21st century, one new name stands out, the British player Lawrence Power, and this disc swiftly tells us why. He’s fleet-fingered. He’s various: the changing hues never stop. He’s effortlessly eloquent with a centred tone across his entire range.” The Times

“It is good to welcome a modern recording of Walton's Viola Concerto in its original orchestration.
When in 1938 Frederick Riddle, principal viola of the LSO, first recorded this seminal work, Walton had yet to slim down the orchestration to make the concerto more accessible.
But even dedicated Waltonians may not notice much difference, particularly when in this fine recording the balance marginally favours the solo instrument. Yet as Leo Black suggests in his booklet-notes, the result 'perhaps conveys to a greater extent the freshness and grittiness of Walton's original conception'.
This was in many ways the breakthrough work in Walton's early career; it brought together in full maturity his distinctive mixture of yearning lyricism and jazzily syncopated writing. Lawrence Power serves the work superbly. Riddle's is arguably still the finest version (Dutton Labs), with speeds marginally faster than modern versions, something approved by Walton. Yet Power is not much slower than Riddle in the Andantecomodo first movement. In the finale differences in timing between Riddle and modern versions is greater, largely because of the final expansive epilogue, which clearly echoes the accompanied cadenzas of Elgar's Violin Concerto.
The two Rubbra items here are welcome. His orchestration in the Concerto is never as clear as Walton's but it suits his musical idiom with its reliance on perfect fourths and other open intervals, as well as plainsong. The Meditations on aByzantine Theme, the first recording in the version for unaccompanied viola, makes an apt extra. All told, a superb disc, much to be welcomed.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Some wonderful playing from Lawrence Power in this recording of the original 1928/9 version of the Viola Concerto. Power never sacrifices his rich, burnished tone even in the fastest passages, and the last movement is full of character. With excellent accompaniment from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov, this is a most impressive disc.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Concerto

Building a Library

First Choice - November 2007

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Walton - Chamber Music

Walton - Chamber Music


Walton:

Valse from Façade

Passacaglia for solo cello

Violin Sonata

Piano Quartet

Anon in Love for tenor and guitar

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Craig Ogden (guitar)


“This excellent Hyperion issue brings together a wide-ranging group of Walton's chamber works, from his earliest major work, the Piano Quartet, originally written when he was 16, to his last instrumental piece, the Passacaglia, which he composed for Rostropovich when he was nearly 80. As a substantial bonus there's the little song cycle for tenor and guitar, Anon in Love, as well as the two shorter pieces.
Helped by a spacious recording, the extra lightness and clarity brings an element of fantasy into such a movement as the Scherzo of the Piano Quartet and an extra tenderness into the lovely slow movement. Nowhere else does Walton so enthusiastically use modal thematic material, starting with the mysterious opening theme, which the Nash players take very reflectively at a speed much slower than the movement's main tempo, Allegramente. It's an astonishingly confident work for so young a composer, with adventurous writing for the strings that belies the fact that Walton was no string-player.
The Violin Sonata, a more elusive work, long underestimated, is given an equally persuasive performance, with Marianne Thorsen, accompanied by Ian Brown, freely expressive. John Mark Ainsley is totally undaunted by the taxing vocal writing of Anon in Love, originally designed for Peter Pears. And Craig Ogden is an ideal accompanist, totally idiomatic, adding sparkle to the vigorous songs in this offbeat collection.
Though Ian Brown gives a slightly sluggish account of Façade's 'Valse' – in the awkward piano transcription ascribed to Walton himself – cellist Paul Watkins crowns the disc with a fine reading of the solo Passacaglia.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“a powerful account of the Passacaglia for solo cello by Paul Watkins.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2002

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Walton - Coronation Te Deum

Walton - Coronation Te Deum

and other choral music


Walton:

Coronation Te Deum

A Litany 'Drop, drop slow tears'

versions 1,2 & 3

The Twelve

Set me as a seal upon thine heart

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis

Nunc Dimittis

Where does the uttered music go?

Jubilate Deo

Missa Brevis

Cantico del Sole

Make we joy now in this fest

King Herod and the Cock

All this time

What cheer?

Antiphon

A Queen's Fanfare


Polyphony, the Wallace Collection, Stephen Layton

“This disc has important bonuses that all Walton devotees will value. The inclusion of The Wallace Collection brings an immediate advantage in the first choral item, the Coronation Te Deum, when the extra bite of brass adds greatly to the impact of a piece originally designed for very large forces in Westminster Abbey. Brass also adds to the impact of the final item, Antiphon, one of Walton's very last works, setting George Herbert's hymn Let all the world in every cornersing. The new disc also includes Walton's four carols, which makes this as comprehensive a collection of Walton's shorter choral pieces as could be imagined. As for the performances and recording, the professional group, Polyphony, with sopranos very boyish, have many of the advantages that the St John's Choir offer on Naxos in bright choral sound set in an ecclesiastical atmosphere. The acoustic of Hereford Cathedral is a little washy in places, and the balance of some of the solo voices is odd at times, yet the merits of these performances far outweigh any slight reservations, with the professional singers a degree more warmly expressive than the all-male St John's Choir.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Baker sings the role of Cressida in this live recording from Covent Garden of Walton's first opera, heard here in the revised version prepared specially for Janet Baker by Walton in 1976. Richard Cassilly sings the role of Troilus with great ardour, and there's a fine supporting cast including Gerald English, Benjamin Luxon, and Richard Van Allan, conducted by Lawrence Foster.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

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Walton: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Walton: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2


Walton:

Symphony No. 1 in B flat minor

Siesta

Symphony No. 2


The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins gives invigorating and authoritative performances of William Walton’s masterful symphonies. The musicians balance stunning control with breathtaking energy and character.

Following the resounding success of Belshazzar’s Feast, Walton spent three years perfecting his dramatic first symphony. The immensely virtuosic work displays an astounding range of colours and emotional volatility, reflecting the turbulence of Walton’s private life. Despite its fraught gestation—the first performance in 1934 by the London Symphony Orchestra was missing the finale—this work met with an ecstatic critical reception and has remained popular ever since.

The second symphony, premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1960, is more concise and refined. Somewhat out of kilter with the austerity of its time, this masterpiece was slow to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor. Also included is the intimate orchestral work Siesta, from 1926.

“Nobody since has managed to match [Previn's] combination of snarling menace and orchestral brilliance on disc, and it's a real achievement that Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony come as close as they do to emulating it. Brabbins's account is a reminder that for all its derivative elements and bombast, Walton One is a powerful musical statement in its own right.” The Guardian, 23rd June 2011 ****

“the Second — unhappily premiered 25 years later, in 1960 — has not been much heard. One reason may be that its fizzing syncopations and phantasmagorical textures are fiendish to conduct and play. Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish are thrilling champions.” The Times, 25th June 2011 ****

“Neglected in the concert hall, Walton’s Second Symphony (1956-60) makes an ideal foil on CD for his more familiar First...Brabbins makes the strongest possible case for the work...Anyone tempted by both symphonies on a single disc need not hesitate.” Sunday Times, 10th July 2011 ****

“The dazzling brilliance and menacing darkness in Walton’s First Symphony are astutely caught here by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. The sensible coupling is the Second Symphony, not so warmly received when it was new but here attesting to its originality and emotional power.” The Telegraph, 7th July 2011 ****

“Good performances do convince you that [The First] a masterpiece, and Martyn Brabbins’s account is very, very good. There’s plenty of savagery when needed, and the bombast is slightly underplayed but with no loss of energy or momentum...Brabbins’s performance [of the Second] really delivers, notably in the eerie slow interlude in the last movement, and the final brass-drenched minutes. It’s that good.” Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 16th July 2011

“unlike on many other recordings, both conductor and orchestra know one another's work and working methods well, and it shows here in many points of detail...As for the performances, it is impossible to imagine anything better than this, by turns so very exciting and very moving. Brabbins's tempos are absolutely spot-on...I have no doubt that this disc enshrines great conducting of a great orchestra in great music; the result is a record in a thousand.” International Record Review, July/August 2011

“Brabbins never lets [the First] off the tight rein it requires, so that it sounds all the more powerful as a result: the ferocious climaxes are built and sustained with control, while the Andante con malinconia convincingly resists its usual tendency to sprawl. The playing - featuring what must be the finest trumpet section in these islands - is top-flight” BBC Music Magazine, September 2011 ****/*

“Brabbins brings a focused, tautly unified concept to each symphony, with great empathy shining out of the Lento of the Second” Classic FM Magazine, September 2011 ****

“What is so good about the new Hyperion performances is the control of tension...The whole disc is a credit not only to the conductor but also to the quality of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra which can stand comparison with any rival, not least in the quality of the woodwind solos.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011

“Much less frequently performed than the First Symphony, the Second Symphony is nevertheless a great piece, and it receives an ideal recording here from Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who negotiate the fiendish third movement Passacaglia with apparent ease and virtuosity.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

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Walton: Violin Concerto, Partita & Hindemith Variations

Walton: Violin Concerto, Partita & Hindemith Variations


Walton:

Violin Concerto

Anthony Marwood (violin)

Partita for Orchestra

Variations on a Theme by Hindemith

Spitfire Prelude & Fugue


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra follow up their definitive account of the symphonies (on CDA67794) with another outstanding album of Walton. From the sunlit Mediterranean lyricism of the Violin Concerto to the rousing Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, this is the composer at the height of his power.

“Anthony Marwood’s un-flashy individualism seems to be operating at an opposite pole to the Heifetz way, and generates memorable results of its own. While Marwood has all the virtuosity that the music demands, nothing is rushed…[and] the design here hangs together quite naturally. He searches out remarkable colours, too…alert accompanying by the orchestra sets a benchmark for the musical riches that follow” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

“Proceedings are launched in fine style with a supremely affectionate and agreeably lithe account of the immensely personable concerto that Walton conceived for the great Jascha Heifetz. Anthony Marwood proves an enviably secure and articulate soloist...their consistently absorbing performance will unquestionably give lasting pleasure.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2017

“an engrossing sequence. Marwood is a thrilling, virtuosic soloist in the ever-seductive concerto, and the orchestra matches his power.” Sunday Times, 2nd July 2017

“Walton’s musical and scoring virtuosity is to the fore in this wide-ranging and substantial piece that is done handsome service to by the BBCSSO and Brabbins, whether intimately expressive, fleet and spectral (Walton often with a twinkle in the eye), or grandiose.” classicalsource.com, July 2017 *****

“Marwood gently entwines himself with the orchestral texture. He's never flashy for its own sake, and yet his virtuosity and absolute command come across at every moment. Both he and the orchestra respond wonderfully to the concerto's changing moods...A fascinating disc that's well worth investigating, especially if you're tempted to explore some of Walton's lesser-known works.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 7th July 2017

“Marwood is the incisive, poetic soloist in Walton’s Violin Concerto...Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra relish the showpiece Partita.” The Observer, 9th July 2017 *****

“Anthony Marwood has the technique to encompass the dazzling finger work designed with Heifetz in mind. An unqualified success.” The Strad, July 2017

“Hyperion becomes not only my overall choice for the coupling but a very strong contender in all the individual works.” MusicWeb International, July 2017

“[a highlight is] Anthony Marwood’s intelligent reading of the sultry Violin Concerto. The work usually leaves me cold, but this taut performance is a keeper, especially in the long closing movement where the reprise of music from the concerto's opening is devastatingly effective. The coda’s fireworks are sensational.” The Arts Desk, 29th July 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

7th July 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey

A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey


Chilcott:

Shepherd's Carol

Dove:

The three Kings

Gruber, F:

Silent Night

Arranged by Christopher Bowers-Broadbent

Head, M:

The Little Road to Bethlehem

Lavino:

Nativity

Leighton:

A Christmas Carol, Op. 21

Mathias:

Ave Rex, Op. 45

Pearsall:

In dulci jubilo

Poulenc:

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Rutter:

Dormi, Jesu

trad.:

Joys Seven

Arranged by Stephen Cleobury

I saw three ships

Arranged by James O’Donnell

Walton:

All this time


The first of this month’s ‘double bill’ from Westminster presents a delightful and unusual selection of music for Christmas from the Abbey Choir. It encompasses all the diverse themes of Christmas which have inspired composers across the ages: light shining in darkness; the tenderness of mother and child; the fulfilment of promise; and the warm merriment of corporate celebration.

An excellent selection of contemporary carols features the composers Jonathan Dove and Bob Chilcott among others. The richness of twentieth-century church music is illustrated in works by Poulenc, Walton, Mathias and Leighton, and by the heartbreakingly lovely piece The little road to Bethlehem by Michael Head. Skilful arrangements of the traditional carols Silent night, In dulci jubilo and I saw three ships, complete this attractive seasonal release.

“An ambitious and superbly sung programme, sympathetically framed within the choir's spaciously atmospheric home acoustic.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 *****

“The Christmas Eve carol service at Westminster Abbey is one of the most warming events in the festive calendar, and this CD captures the atmosphere beautifully … The singing is a constant delight” The Telegraph

Presto Disc of the Week

8th December 2008

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Bridge: Three Idylls, etc.

Bridge:

Three Idylls

Elgar:

String Quartet in E minor, Op. 83

Walton:

String Quartet in A Minor


“Eloquent and sensitive performances of some of the finest British chamber works of our century” BBC Music Magazine

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Canticles from St Paul's

Canticles from St Paul's


Archer, M:

Benedicite, omnia opera

Gray, Alan:

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in F minor

Roth, A:

Jubilate

Stanford:

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in B flat, Op. 10

Tippett:

Magnificat & Nunc dimittis (Collegium Sancti Johannis Cantabrigiense)

Walmisley:

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D Minor

Walton:

Coronation Te Deum

Wood, C:

Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Collegium Regale)


The Canticles are the crowning glory of the Anglican liturgy and have afforded the greatest opportunity for musical development within the Anglican rite. Thousands of people daily hear the world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and organist Simon Johnson under their director of music Andrew Carwood singing these settings. Here these forces present a satisfying collection including nineteenth-century masterpieces by Stanford and Charles Wood, and from the twentieth century Walton’s Coronation Te Deum, written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and Tippett’s monumental work for St John’s College Cambridge.

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2014

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Elgar & Walton: Cello Concertos

Elgar & Walton: Cello Concertos


Elgar:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Philharmonia Orchestra, Paavo Järvi

Holst:

Invocation

Philharmonia Orchestra, Paavo Järvi

Holst, I:

The Fall of the Leaf

Walton:

Cello Concerto

Philharmonia Orchestra, Paavo Järvi


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here, and watch Chris O'Reilly's exclusive video-interview with Steven Isserlis here.

Sir Edward Elgar’s sublime Cello Concerto receives an impassioned new performance from Steven Isserlis, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Paavo Järvi. With additional works by Sir William Walton and Gustav Holst, as well as a miniature suite for solo cello by Imogen Holst, this is unquestionably one of the year’s most eagerly awaited releases.

“This mesmerising meditation couldn't be in better hands” BBC Music Magazine, March 2016

“Isserlis’s playing of the solo part in the Elgar evokes an elegy for a lost world, while he captures perfectly the bittersweet languor of the Walton.” Sunday Times, 28th February 2016

“older, wiser and even more convincing [than his first recording of the Elgar]...Isserlis’s cello rages against the dying of the light, sounding angry yet still beautiful, and under Järvi the orchestra is full-bodied but focused.” The Guardian, 3rd March 2016

“So, how much has he re-thought the work during the past 25 years? The answer is not dramatically, but everything evolves a little with time, and there is definitely more musical conviction to the phrasing and general direction in the new recording - giving each movement (and indeed the whole work) a tighter and much more defined structure.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 19th February 2016

“With his immaculate technical address and ravishingly songful, mellow tone, Isserlis strikes precisely the right balance between classical strength and private introspection, his contribution as full of radiant spontaneity and tumbling fantasy as one could wish...An unmissable release.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“Isserlis gives a deeply touching account, the sort that restores faith in a too-often-performed work, here reclaimed as the masterpiece that it is, personal and private, yes, but outgoing in a consoling way without negating buoyancy or go-getting...There is universal appeal to this reading, thankfully without the mawkishness or exaggeration that some interpreters impose upon it.” classicalsource.com

“no praise can be too high for Isserlis’s splendid playing, eloquent without being indulgent and technically always in complete command.” MusicWeb International, April 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

19th February 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - March 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - March 2016

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London Pride

London Pride

A celebration of London in song


 

Take Me In A Taxi Joe

Bennett, R R:

Let's Go and Live in the Country

Coward, N:

London Pride

Dacre:

While London's Fast Asleep

Dove:

Five Am'rous Sighs

Dring:

Business Girls (No. 2 from 5 Betjeman Songs)

Fraser-Simson:

Christopher Robin at Buckingham Palace

Gershwin:

A Foggy Day (In London Town)

MacColl:

Sweet Thames, Flow Softly

Mayerl:

Mayfair Merry Go Round

Monckton:

Chalk Farm to Camberwell Green

Norris, D O:

Big Ben Blues

Sherwin, M:

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

Sisson & Harvey:

The Wimbledon Idyll

Swann, D:

Joyful Noise

Walton:

Rhyme

The Pleasures of Spring Gardens, Vauxhall


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