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Walton: Symphony No 2, Cello Concerto / Watkins, Gardner, BBC Symphony

Walton / Watkins / Bbc So / Gardner
Release Date: 03/31/2015 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5153  
Composer:  Sir William Walton
Performer:  Paul Watkins
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gardner directs a superbly perceptive account of Walton's Second Symphony, exhilarating in its purposeful thrust… [M]ake no mistake: with cracking playing from the BBC SO, Gardner's is a conspicuously insightful reading of this underrated score… [A] gem of a disc.

– Gramophone [5/2015]

Edward Gardner conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in late music by Walton. It follows the success of his recording of Walton’s Symphony No. 1 and Violin Concerto – one of Chandos’ best-selling recordings for 2014. With an air of relaxation that differs from the tension of his previously recorded early works, the music on this album is likely to cause as much
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Walton’s Second (and last) Symphony was commissioned for the 750th anniversary, in 1957 – 58, of the founding of the city of Liverpool, but, delayed by the composition of the Cello Concerto, it was only premiered in 1960. Scored for a large and colourful orchestra, it is based on the same model as the Third Symphony of Albert Roussel, with a similarly compact duration and the use of the key of G minor, and a concentration on angular melodies, sharply dissonant harmonies, and motoric rhythms.

The Cello Concerto was premiered in London in 1957 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra itself. The cello soloist is Paul Watkins, exclusive on Chandos, highly praised as a member of the Emerson String Quartet, but also the Artistic Director, since last year, of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival of Detroit.

In this piece, the traditional structure of Walton’s earlier concertos – a moderately paced opening movement followed by a central scherzo – ends in a rich finale consisting of a theme and four ‘improvisations’. The concept of ‘improvisation’ occurs again in the last work on the disc, based on the ‘Impromptu’ of Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto. - Chandos

Performance ***** Recording ****

"...The needlepoint orchestral precision required by the Second Symphony is seriously demanding: George Szell’s 1961 recording with the Cleveland Orchestra set a standard in this respect that remains exceptional. Yet Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra match them as near as makes no difference, while also searching out much more of the work’s range of expression, memorably so in the sow movement’s dark-toned emotionalism... captured in ultra-clear recorded sound, with just the right amount of surrounding resonance..."

Malcolm Hayes - BBC Music magazine - April 2015

"Lavishly reproduced in surround sound, these accounts of three accounts of three of Walton’s later, compariatively neglected works are as superbly thought out as they are atmospherically recorded..."

Paul Driver - The Times (Culture magazine) - 8 March, 2015
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Works on This Recording

Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; England 
Concerto for Cello by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Paul Watkins (Cello)
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1974; England 
Symphony no 2 by Sir William Walton
Conductor:  Edward Gardner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959-1960; England 

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