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Walton / Bowen: Viola Concertos CD


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Product details

  • Conductor: Marc Taddei
  • Composer: Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton, York Bowen
  • Audio CD (22 Oct. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000FA55SW
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,273 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Prelude: Allegro Moderato
2. Carol: Andante Con Moto
3. Christmas Dance. Allegro
4. Elegy for Viola, String Quartet and String Orchestra
5. Andante Comodo
6. Vivo, Con Molto Preciso
7. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35
8. Allegro Assai
9. Andante Cantabile
10. Allegro Scherzando

Product Description

Walton : Concerto pour alto - Vaughan Williams : Suite pour alto & orchestre - Howells : Elégie pour alto - Bowen : Concerto pour alto / Helen Callus, alto - Orchestre Symphonique de Nouvelle-Zélande, dir. Marc Taddei

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tim Anderson on 13 Jun. 2006
Format: Audio CD
I can't think of another recording that packs this much outstanding music for viola and orchestra onto one CD. That is all wonderful English music from the golden era of Enlish music, the early 20th-century, with the likes of Vaughan Williams and Walton is excellent. Further, new discoveries, for me at least, of the Howells Elegy and Bowen Concerto is even better. And best of all is that violist Helen Callus is superb. She plays with such passion and drama, with a richness of sound that seems to have a thousand different possibilities, each one perfectly suited to every mood and nuance. Take the Vaughan Williams, for example which opens the CD. The Prelude is full and bold, the Carol is touching and intimate, the Christmas Dance is raucus and full of energy and wit.

Then we move to the Howells Elegy, which is the emotional heart of the CD and the standout among a recording filled with standouts. Though clearly modeled after Vaughan Williams Talis Fantasia, and certainly from that great English school of string writing, it is a unique work that breathes and aches in remembrence of Howells fallen schoolmate from WWI. I can see this recording setting a trend by which this work becomes a regular part of the concert repetoire. It is so wonderful to listen to and it highlights the tremendous string section of the New Zealand Symphony, led by Marc Taddei.

The Walton Concerto is certainly the most recorded work on the CD, and it holds its own against the likes of Bashmet, Kennedy, Vengerev, and even Primrose. Once again, what shines through with Callus is her passion, her beautifully engaging sound, and her glorius music making.

The final work on the CD, the Bowen Concerto, was new to me and it is a great addition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christine M. Pluck on 22 April 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are over 35 recordings of Walton's Viola Concerto, at least ten of which are paired with his own, much better known, violin concerto. If you have the violin concerto already then this is probably the disc for you. What makes it stand out is the imaginative couplings of top quality viola music from Vaughan Williams, Howells and Bowen, along with the energetic brilliance of Helen Callus, well-supported by the increasingly impressive New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Mark Taddei.

I shall deal with the pieces in the order they occur on the disc.

The first three tracks are Part 1 of Vaughan Williams' suite for Viola and Orchestra. Although the complete work comprises eight pieces, this is the best version I have ever heard of these three - particularly the opening track. The opening is majestic and uplifting in which the viola soars. The second is beautiful and reflective, while, the third - much shorter is unashamedly rustic in tone. (Total playing time about 11 minutes).

The next track is Howells Elergy for Viola, String Quartet and String Orchestra (ten and a half minutes).
After about one and a quarter minutes there is a lovely sonorous passgae where the viola climbs to a bright climax. I can pay the Elergy no higher compliment than saying that the whiole work is very reminiscent of Vaughan Williams' Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.

Walton's Viola Concert (about 28 minutes).
This is the 1961 revision of the 1929 work which was premiered by Paul Hindemith on viola. The revision reduces the wind and brass but adds a harp.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc, very well recorded in 2005, first came to my attention through the suggestion of a fellow reviewer. Previously the recordings made by Nigel Kennedy and Lars Tomter had been discs of preference but both , though individually fine, did not seem to deliver that total satisfaction that Kyung Wha Chung did on her recording of the violin concerto. In general it seems that the violin concerto and the cell concerto have both been better served on disc than the viola concerto.

That is until now.

This disc supplies all that the concerto demands. Especially there is that ability to 'fly' with the swung rhythms of the central movement especially but also with the last movement. It is the lack of flight that holds the Kennedy version back. This is a matter of vision rather than greater or lesser technique. There is a need for joy in this concerto if it is to avoid being too serious, a characteristic which would then be emphasised by the tonal nature of the instrument itself. Helen Callus, a name previously unknown to me, is clearly a player of not only great technical skill, but also one of a sensitive musical nature and one who has the ability to make her instrument 'sing.' This second characteristic is abundantly obvious throughout this interestingly varied disc, but it is also one that welds beautifully with the ability to 'fly' in the Walton concerto. This combination makes this recording especially attractive.

The Bowen concerto is a rhapsodic piece, skilfully written. Bowen was essentially a pianist of considerable personal renown during the first part of his career. His piano works were even referred to as the English Rachmaninov although listeners would search in vain for the landmark Rachmaninov big melodies that are so very distinctive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A great recording! Absolutely essential. 26 July 2006
By A music fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I first became acquainted with Helen Callus's gorgeous viola playing from her previous ASV release of the Clarke viola works. In that wonderful recording, she featured all British women and now she takes on the British men. By far the most recorded work on the album is the Walton Viola Concerto. Always a winner in my book, there are several other competing versions and Callus easily holds her own against them mainly because she has a quality that is rare today in classical recordings, her own unique sound and personality. Her luscious turn of phrase, dark rich sound and indulgent (in the best sense) musicality serve the score to produce a moving performance.

After the Walton, everything else on the disc is new to me and seems to be very rarely recorded. And that seems a great shame, because the rest of the music is fantastic and so wonderfully easy to listen to, I can't imagine why these works haven't found a place in the catalog. I would say that after this recording, they will certainly grow in popularity.

The Vaughan Williams Suite which opens the disc is delightful. Rich in the opening, intimate in the middle and fun at the end. For me, the big winner, however, is the Howells. The Howells is simply drop-dead stunning. Callus is so passionate as are all the strings of the New Zealand Symphony. This work alone will surely win accolades.

Finally the York Bowen Concerto rounds out the disc. More in the mold of a bravura 19th-century violin concerto, this is a work of scale that violists never seem to get. Callus brings a highly dramatic flair to this work. I especially enjoyed her virtuosic cadenza (the notes say she wrote it!) at the end of the 3rd movement.

Alone, any one of these works is worth purchasing, together they make an outstanding combination, a full 78 minutes worth of music that is an absolute must have.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
violaman 28 April 2007
By Robert S. Sablove - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ms. Callus' performances are superb. I have two other recordings of the Walton concerto, and hers is the best. Vaughan Williams piece is beautiful. Howells is especially poignant and sounds more Vaughan Williams than V-W himself. Bowen is stellar and it is truly a virtuoso performance. I purchased this recording after buying Ms. Callus' Portrait of the Viola. Both are in a class of their own. I can't wait for her to come out with another recording. Helen Callus, you are a viola goddess!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Arguably the best Walton within an imaginatively satisfying viola program 26 Dec. 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc, very well recorded in 2005, first came to my attention through the suggestion of a fellow reviewer. Previously the recordings made by Nigel Kennedy and Lars Tomter had been discs of preference but both , though individually fine, did not seem to deliver that total satisfaction that Kyung Wha Chung did on her recording of the violin concerto. In general it seems that the violin concerto and the cell concerto have both been better served on disc than the viola concerto.

That is until now.

This disc supplies all that the concerto demands. Especially there is that ability to 'fly' with the swung rhythms of the central movement especially but also with the last movement. It is the lack of flight that holds the Kennedy version back. This is a matter of vision rather than greater or lesser technique. There is a need for joy in this concerto if it is to avoid being too serious, a characteristic which would then be emphasised by the tonal nature of the instrument itself. Helen Callus, a name previously unknown to me, is clearly a player of not only great technical skill, but also one of a sensitive musical nature and one who has the ability to make her instrument 'sing.' This second characteristic is abundantly obvious throughout this interestingly varied disc, but it is also one that welds beautifully with the ability to 'fly' in the Walton concerto. This combination makes this recording especially attractive.

The Bowen concerto is a rhapsodic piece, skilfully written. Bowen was essentially a pianist of considerable personal renown during the first part of his career. His piano works were even referred to as the English Rachmaninov although listeners would search in vain for the landmark Rachmaninov big melodies that are so very distinctive. Nevertheless this viola concerto is a finely written work with plenty of substance to give it musical weight and be a satisfying musical experience. The Howells Elegy is a moving tribute to one of his friends, killed in W.W.1. It is conceived as a work for viola, string quartet and string orchestra and was an acknowledged tribute to Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia. It receives a sensitively convincing performance here.

Finally there is the suite for viola and orchestra by Vaughan Williams which opens this disc. The Suite is in three sections, each subdividing to give a total of 9 short sections spanning three 'movements.' This is an unjustly underplayed work and it is good to report that it receives a fine performance here. It is likely that this will be the reference version of this suite for some time yet to come.

I would suggest that this is a very imaginative disc that should be seriously considered by anyone interested in viola music. All of the music is well written and of satisfying musical substance. The Walton will be the main item for many and this recording certainly deserves to be considered only with the very best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Stellar Walton 5 Oct. 2009
By M. Hatlestad - Published on Amazon.com
This is my favorite recording of the Walton that I have heard. Callus' marvelous tone and musicality really shine through. She takes the tempos just right. The orchestra sound great to. I can only offer praise for this recording.
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