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Walton: Cello Concerto, Passacaglia; Bloch, Ligeti, Britten / Wispelwey, Tate, Sydney So

Release Date: 03/10/2009 
Label:  Onyx   Catalog #: 4042   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sir William WaltonErnest BlochGyörgy LigetiBenjamin Britten
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey
Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A fine reading of the Concerto and a unique selection of solo items

Always a tremendously classy player, Pieter Wispelwey delivers a soulful reading of the Walton Cello Concerto here to rank with the very best. If the rest of the performances on this disc aren’t quite up to that level, there’s still plenty to savour from this most intelligent cellist.

-- Gramophone [6/2009] 3323760.zz4_WALTON_Cello_Concerto_1.html

WALTON Cello Concerto. 1 Read more class="ARIAL12b"> Passacaglia for Solo Cello. BLOCH Solo Cello Suite No. 1. BRITTEN Solo Cello Suite No. 2: Ciaconna. LIGETI Sonata for Solo Cello Peter Wispelwey (vc); Jeffrey Tate, cond; Sydney SO ONYX 4042 (66:19) Live: Sydney 2007 1

This has become one of my favorite versions of the Prokofiev-influenced Cello Concerto that Walton wrote for Piatigorsky in 1956. There are two later revisions of the coda. Wispelwey plays the customary original version of that ending, beautifully sustained, with a tiny noise-off as the last note dies, to remind us of the live source. Tate conducts superbly and in an obvious and intense partnership with Wispelwey, who is dedicated in his playing, as always, and richly recorded. Competition includes Piatigorsky/Munch, a fine Philips Lloyd Webber version reissued on Arkiv CD, and the Müller-Schott/Previn, welcomed by Colin Anderson in 30:2. Previn’s conducting of the Walton concertos puts him in a class of his own, unmissable. Back in time, Tortelier/Berglund taped it for EMI in great sound, and with some commitment. If you can find the “double fforte” reissue package, grab it.

Wispelwey and Tate convey the lyrical magnificence of the Moderato as well as anyone, and probably better. This is wonderful music, echoing the Prokofiev Symphony Concerto, but more tightly structured. They give an expansive reading, but it never drags, and I found it very moving. Sometimes, I just sit in awe at the beauty of the textures in this Concerto, but not here. Wispelwey conveys more vulnerability than whimsy. There’s a troubled edge to the Allegro, normally the show-off movement, while the phrasing and dynamics of the Tema are inspired. Pretty much everything goes right here, including the balance. Everything that is, unless you prefer the piece brisker (as Walton certainly did).

The fillers are the main course, almost, including the quirky Passacaglia Walton wrote for Rostropovich. I don’t know the competing versions, and this seems outstanding. But I prefer the new Wispelwey version of the early Ligeti Sonata to that of Haimovitz. The Britten extract is so good I wish he’d done the whole suite instead of the Bloch. That’s fine, so far as it goes, musically, but it’s not on the same level as the Britten. Wispelwey still offers the best current version of the late, Bach-inspired Bloch Sonata. Actually there was nearly enough room for the whole Britten Suite anyway.

Wispelwey’s notion (and he succeeds) is to raise the Walton Concerto’s stature and to set it in an interesting context: other Walton, other cello works of the 1950s, other British cello music of the era. As such, the disc has no real competition, and your choice may come down to the couplings you need. Müller-Scott has the Elgar Concerto, Webber an excellent version of the Britten Cello Symphony. Wispelwey and Tate make a good first choice, if you don’t want another version of the Elgar or Britten.

FANFARE: Paul Ingram
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1974; England 
Suite for Cello solo no 1 by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Sonata for Cello solo by György Ligeti
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948-1953; Hungary 
Suite for Cello solo no 2, Op. 80: 5th movement, Chaconne by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; England 
Passacaglia for Cello solo by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979-1980; England 

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