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Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Symphony No.1 (LSO/Davis) [Hybrid SACD, Live]

William Walton , Colin Davis , London Symphony Orchestra , Peter Coleman-Wright Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Performer: Peter Coleman-Wright
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Colin Davis
  • Composer: William Walton
  • Audio CD (28 Feb 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, Live
  • Label: LSO Live
  • ASIN: B004JP8OJ6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,640 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No. 1 in B Flat Minor - London Symphony Orchestra
2. Belshazzar's Feast - Various Performers

Product Description

Product Description

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Review

If you like your Walton unleashed at full and scalding voltage, look no further. The LSO s trademark virtuosity and panache are so great, and the players unravelling of Walton s demanding part-writing in the First Symphony so clear, that their performance penetrates straight to the heart of the music --BBC Music Magazine (UK)

**** Prise de son homogène, dynamique, bien définie Sir Colin en signe une des meilleures versions modernes... une approche qui le démarque nettement de la plupart de ses confrères... profondément originale, avec un orchestre au meilleur de sa forme --Classica (France)

'Sir Colin and his LSO forces are in sizzling form in this truly revolutionary take on the often turgid oratorio form' --Limelight Magazine (Australia)

Belshazzar s Feast manages both to be unusually operatic in its approach and also essentially symphonic, which can make it a tricky balancing act. Sir Colin Davis demonstrates his understanding of this conundrum in these concert performances in 2008 with Baritone Peter Coleman-Wright in commanding form, and full-blooded commitment from the LSO & LSC ... a gripping performance, only slightly softened by the balance in the Barbican. It s coupled with Symphony No 1, and that s brilliantly played as well --BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Generous Coupling! 10 Mar 2011
By Bruce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
At over 80 minutes of music, with the two great orchestral milestones of Walton's career - this is a pretty good package.

I have loved the first symphony for many decades and have never found anything to surpass the Previn versions - but I keep looking and when I attend concerts it's such an overwhelming experience, that I really wish there was a modern version with great sound, to replace those.

The sound on this CD though is variable and while the percussion, Timpani and low brass sound great - they tend to overpower the rest. The strings and high woodwind sound a bit "weedy" and exposed? There is a great Tuba sound in both pieces, but overall, I think the sound suits Belshazzar's Feast more than the Symphony.

I really liked the Feast on offer here and it is now my favourite version for sheer sonic spectacle and excitement. However, the symphony just doesn't sound right and there are key moments where it doesn't work - the strings are too thin throughout.

I do like both performances and we have to accept that this is live - but I will keep searching for the perfect recording of the symphony and enjoy the choral piece with its spectacular widescreen vistas!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a stunning recording of Walton' s first symphony, the sacd recording enhances the multiple rhythms and complex interplay between instruments. The music is essentially abstract but evokes for me a journey round the universe exploring diverse planets.
The enhanced audio dynamic range is a slight problem in quieter moments, some intricate passages becoming almost totally inaudible to my ear.

The Balshazzar' s Feast does not quite live up to the expectations I had of a multichannel recording. I had hoped for a greater illusion of being present at a live choral performance but somehow, to my ear, that ambience and atmosphere was not captured in this recording.

It is possible to buy the Walton Symphony 1 on a single sacd disc, without the Belshazzar's Feast, which seems to be the same performance and recording.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar... 9 Mar 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I must confess I have awaited this recording with both anticipation and trepidation. Why? Anticipation, because I love this music; and trepidation because of the track record of poor sound quality in LSO Live recordings at the Barbican.

Let's see how it turned out. Let me first say I will focus here on the Belshazzar; the symphony has already been released on this label. In a nutshell, I found that performance good but not great- it lacked the raw electricity of the best Previn or Mackerras recordings. And the sound was dismal- dry, up -front and unappealing, in best `LSO Live' tradition.

So, what of Belshazzar? I have loved this piece ever since hearing it performed live in a historic 1976 (July 4th!) performance the LSO and Previn at the Festival Hall. I have written about this elsewhere, so won't bang on about this again here...

Belshazzar's Feast is an extravagantly extrovert romp of a piece. Its gestation was fascinating. The story is told of the young Walton, who had been commissioned to write a choral piece for the Leeds Festival in 1931, seeking advice from Tommy Beecham. He advised Walton that the massive Berlioz Requiem was also to be performed at this event. With such gargantuan musical forces available, asked Walton, why not use them for his new piece? `Why not' grumbled Tommy, `you'll never hear the work again'.

Needless to say, he was wrong. So here we have a block-buster of a piece with large orchestra and double choir, off-stage brass bands, baritone soloist, more percussion you can shake a stick at, and an organ. Plus the kitchen sink. Needless to say, this is an ideal piece for SACD, although large acoustic spaces are essential for the piece to breathe and make its fullest impact.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Close, but no cigar 9 Mar 2011
By J. S. Bower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I must confess I have awaited this recording with both anticipation and trepidation. Why? Anticipation, because I love this music; and trepidation because of the track record of poor sound quality in LSO Live recordings at the Barbican.

Let's see how it turned out. Let me first say I will focus here on the Belshazzar; the symphony has already been released on this label. In a nutshell, I found that 2005 performance good but not great- it lacked the raw electricity of the best Previn or Mackerras recordings. And the sound was dismal: dry, up-front and unappealing, in worst `LSO Live' tradition.

So, what of Belshazzar? I have loved this piece ever since hearing it performed live in a historic 1976 (July 4th!) performance the LSO and Previn at the Festival Hall. I have written about this elsewhere, so won't bang on about this again here...

Belshazzar's Feast is an extravagantly extrovert romp of a piece. Its gestation was fascinating. The story is told of the young Walton, who had been commissioned to write a choral piece for the Leeds Festival in 1931, seeking advice from Tommy Beecham. He advised Walton that the massive Berlioz Requiem was also to be performed at this event. With such gargantuan musical forces available, asked Walton, why not use them for his new piece? `Why not' grumbled Tommy, `you'll never hear the work again'.

Needless to say, he was wrong. So here we have a block-buster of a piece with large orchestra and double choir, off-stage brass bands, baritone soloist, more percussion you can shake a stick at, and an organ. Plus the kitchen sink. Needless to say, this is an ideal piece for SACD, although large acoustic spaces are essential for the piece to breathe and make its fullest impact. So, perhaps, the Barbican with its cramped, dry acoustic might be just about the worst place on the planet to perform it...

But let's not pre-judge. How does it actually turn out? Well, there is good news and bad news. The performance is good, but not great. Hang on, didn't we hear that earlier in the review, about the coupled symphony? Well, it's just as valid a comment here. Belshazzar has a magnificent recording history, with notable performances from Walton himself, Previn, Litton and Hickox; this is quintessentially a young man's piece, and needs fast tempi, swing, precision, exuberance and sensitivity to its more jagged, jazzy episodes.

By that measure, I'm afraid, this performance sounds just a bit light on raw electricity and crackle. And tempi are often just a bit too deliberate for the whole thing to catch fire. What's more, it pains me to say, the playing and ensemble is not always impeccable. It's a difficult piece, being played live, so some consideration is due. Nevertheless, compared with the swaggering energy and staggering playing of -say - the 1972 Previn recording (in EMI Golden Age Bishop/Parker analogue sound, no less), it comes up short.

So, what about the sound? I listened to the SACD stereo layer. And here, believe it or not, we have some slightly better news. Compared with most LSO Lives I have heard, this recording has noticeably more space, air and transparency - just as well, to accommodate the huge forces deployed! Listening to the Belshazzar, first on the disc, and then moving on to the earlier symphony (recorded in 2005), it's just like dropping a large woollen blanket over the sound...

That's where the good news ends, though. The sound is still noticeably over-miked, with instruments dropping in and out of the mix at will. A few examples - where did the organ go, guys? Not to mention the feeblest ever anvil in ` Praise ye the god of Iron'. And god only knows where the antiphonal brass bands in `Praise ye the god of Brass' are coming from...

Tonally, it's all a bit coarse sounding, and it thickens more during some of the stupendous climaxes.

So, there are better performances of both pieces on both CD and vinyl. This is, however, the only Belshazzar on SACD. Well, that really matters not, because in real world sound quality, even on a high-end player and system, this recording actually sounds like a bog-standard CD.

To wrap things up in the words of the choir itself, in fact, one could say about this recording `Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars more than adequate for anyone wanting this coupling. 19 Mar 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I've been accused of 'grade inflation' by friends and foes alike. But I really do feel that this coupling deserves a solid four-star rating. Yes, it's true that the symphony here isn't a match for the old Previn/LSO one on RCA (personally, I like the entire Andrew Litton cycle of Walton orchestral works on Decca). But on the other hand, there's plenty of noise and frenetic energy in "Belshazzar's Feast" to sustain ANY performance and this one isn't bad by any standard. The sound on "Belshazzar" is adequate considering that the source is London's dry and boxy sounding Barbican Center. So, yes; with a bit of digging around, you could come up with better performances of both works, but certainly not by much for the big, noisy choral work (I should talk; I like Mahler's 8th). But for anyone wanting these two important works on one disc, look no further.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sir Colin Davis in his element. Fantastic sound quality 1 July 2011
By williamford8 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The coupling of these two works is fitting as they were written in succession, and it is no surprise they are amongst his most popular compositions. Belshazzar's feast has also established itself as a firm stable amongst the English choral repertoire. Jazz and pop are obvious influences on Walton's compositional style, and it is that element that for me makes his music all the more interesting and exciting. Peter Coleman-Wright has a beautifully velvety tone to his voice that I crave in a baritone. The LSO, led by the fantastic Sir Colin add colour and vitality to the recording along with the LSC. Superb performances all round.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Recording 25 Aug 2014
By Ben - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Brilliant piece of music. Highly recommended and a must have for modern music lovers.
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