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Walton: Symphony 1, Violin Concerto / Little, Gardner

Walton
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5136   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir William Walton
Performer:  Tasmin Little
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



Gardner presides over blisteringly eloquent and splendidly unbuttoned accounts of both these Walton masterworks...Heaps to savour and cherish, in sum; certainly, seasoned Waltonians will have a ball. With magnificent truthful sound and judicious balance throughout, this terrific coupling should be snapped up without delay.

– Gramophone [7/2014]

***** (out of 5) – Disc of the Month
Little's way with the virtuoso passages … allow[s] the ear to savor her phenomenal accuracy, yet with no loss of fire… Gardner and the BBC SO provide an accompaniment whose range of detail… is never driven too hard… a masterclass in how to generate
Read more formidable dramatic voltage while keeping the music's eruptive energy on a tight rein.

– BBC Music Magazine

A compelling coupling of exceptionally fine Walton performances. Both these performances now become the modern benchmark for the respective works.

– MusicWeb International

Edward Gardner’s view of William Walton’s First Symphony is exciting enough, but different enough, so that we can spare ourselves the usual “it’s not Previn and the LSO” apologia. Gardner’s performance of the finale is probably the most brilliant yet recorded: swift, bold, and dazzling, with a smashing (literally) coda. By contrast, the first movement is a touch on the light side, with the uniquely speedy account of the last few minutes offering plenty of energy but less sheer power than usual, especially from the brass. It works because it moves, and after the snappy scherzo and bittersweet slow movement, Gardner’s approach throws some of the emphasis in the large-scale argument onto a finale that in so many performances comes across as unconvincing.

In other words, Gardner has a genuinely original and valid conception of the work, different from anyone else’s, and he has the chops to get the BBC Symphony to do his bidding. This is a real achievement.

In these circumstances the Violin Concerto comes as a bonus. Tasmin Little has recorded the work before, for Litton on Decca, and let’s face it: she’s a good violinist but not so great that she deserves another shot at the same work. Is there a Tasmin Little Society lining up for this? She obviously understands the work, from the romantic cantilena at the start to the brilliant passagework in the central scherzo and finale. So far, so good. What she doesn’t have is a big tone, especially in her upper register, and I am not saying this in comparison only to Heifetz. Just consider James Ehnes, Joshua Bell, or Kyung Wha Chung. The recorded balance between soloist and orchestra, very natural, with plenty of space around the instrument, paradoxically also makes Little sound, well, littler than she otherwise might. Never mind; the symphony’s the thing.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in B flat minor by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1935; England 
Venue:  Fairfield Halls, Croydon 
Length: 42 Minutes 38 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Violin in B minor by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Tasmin Little (Violin)
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1939; England 
Date of Recording: 09/18/2012 
Venue:  Watford Colosseum 
Length: 33 Minutes 6 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1: I. Allegro assai
Symphony No. 1: II. Presto con malizia
Symphony No. 1: III. Andante con malinconia
Symphony No. 1: IV. Maestoso: Allegro brioso ed ardentemente
Violin Concerto (1943 version): I. Andante tranquillo
Violin Concerto (1943 version): II. Presto capriccioso alla napolitana
Violin Concerto (1943 version): III. Vivace

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Walton Concerto. September 2, 2014 By Louis P. (Kensington, MD) See All My Reviews "Excellent performance of the concerto. Just the right "bite" for Walton. The Symphony was disappointing and the review from Arkiv which prompted me to buy the disc was off target. Some of Gardner's choices are interesting, but the whole didn't work for me. I missed the kinetic energy that the first movement usually generates. The ensemble and strings in particular aren't up to the "competition" which is easily available on CD." Report Abuse
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