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Walton: Scapino, Siesta, Symphony No 1 / Adrian Leaper


Release Date: 09/12/2006 
Label:  Arte Nova   Catalog #: 391240   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This new issue of Walton’s First Symphony may be on a super-budget label, and the orchestra may not be familiar, but it competes very well with almost any version currently available. One key moment in this work for me is the lovely trumpet solo in the slow coda of the finale, marked pianissimo and lontano (track 6, 10'28''). More than anyone Leaper captures the elegiac feeling of a distant call of last-post, more tender even than such fine rivals as Rattle or Litton, and the flute solos at the beginning and end of the slow movement similarly have an unearthly chill that I have never heard bettered. Those gentle moments may help to explain what initially I counted a notable fault, but have come to regard as a valid point of interpretation. Read more At the very start of the symphony the jagged pulsing rhythms played on the second violins are virtually inaudible, but a glance at the score reveals they are marked ppp and leggiero, not just ritmico. Leaper seems intent on making the music emerge from mists, for he rapidly builds up tension and momentum, and though in this first movement his reading is not as weighty as many, the clarity of the recording compensates and there is no lack of weight in the heavy brass, which has impressive bite.

The woodwind soloists are consistently outstanding, with the oboe just as expressive as the flute. Even if the strings are relatively backward, their tone is pure and clean, with first-rate ensemble throughout the orchestra. Most importantly, Leaper – who has been Chief Conductor of the orchestra since 1994 – has given the players a totally idiomatic feeling for this music, which can easily defeat a non-British band. Jazzy syncopations are given the right degree of freedom, and the characteristic Waltonian trick of having a salient note introduced by two upward semiquavers is regularly interpreted with just a hint of agogic hesitation.

Though the meno mosso section in the development of the first movement is held back a degree too much (track 3, 5'21''), Leaper sustains it well, just as he sustains his slow speed for the Andante. The Scherzo and finale are crisp and resilient, with busy ensembles made unusually clear, even transparent, a point that also marks Leaper’s witty and sparkling account of the Scapino overture, in which the cello solo is most beautifully played. Siesta is aptly dreamy, not literal or chilly as it can be, making this a disc to recommend to seasoned Waltonians and newcomers alike.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [1/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Comedy Overture "Scapino" by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; England 
Length: 8 Minutes 21 Secs. 
2.
Siesta by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; England 
Length: 5 Minutes 23 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 1 in B flat minor by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932-1935; England 
Length: 46 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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