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on 20 July 2011
I have to admit to not being a great fan of the BBC Symphony Orchestra or Andrew Davis, but occasionally they hit the spot (more with modern repertoire I feel...). This is a live recording of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast taken from the Last Night of the Proms in 1994. It is performed by the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra with Bryn Terfel as soloist.

First of all I have to say that the atmosphere of the occasion is captured rather well on the recording, with all the choral voices and Bryn Terfel being recorded in vivid sound. Just occasionally one is aware of slightly muddied textures in the orchestra and the intrusion of the audience, but it honestly isn't enough to disrupt proceedings. Bryn Terfel is magnificent as the soloist with his powerful voice intoning the biblical prophesies. Credit also to the choir and to the orchestra, who are both on top form throughout. The choir enunciates very clearly and there is a wonderful bite to the orchestral sound. I felt that the louder, more exciting passages came off best, as Andrew Davis takes quite a brisk approach throughout, thereby creating a very coherent line through each section. Occasionally the orchestra sounds a little bit anonymous in the more reflective passages, but this is a minor quibble to be honest.

I have to admit that Vaughan Williams' Job was new to me, but it is an outstanding piece. It is essentially a one act ballet (even though it is entitled 'A Masque for Dancing'), travelling from the familiar pastoral style of Vaughan Williams in the introduction to a more waspish, extremely colourful 'Satan's Dance of Triumph' - a more bracing style of music which Vaughan Williams later adopts in his 4th and 6th Symphonies. The orchestration and melodic invention is very impressive and started to really make me think about Vaughan Williams' gifts as an orchestrator - a factor which is often overlooked. The playing of the BBCSO is fantastic throughout - vivid, detailed, with just the right balance of power and delicacy.
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on 6 February 2013
Like so many of the recordings transferred some time ago to the cheapish Apex label (from EMI I think) this is first rate, playing, conducting and especially the sound. Belshazzar's Feast needs very good sound and it really gets it here. Job is much underappreciated but wonderful music. Just listen to when the organ comes in at full blast! Andrew Davis is always so reliable, especially in English music.
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on 21 November 2003
This inexpensive CD features the terrific voice of Bryn Terfel and a stirring performance of Walton's great work. The text, taken directly from the King James Version of the Bible by Osbert Sitwell, has been intelligently chosen: it begins with Isaiah's prophecy that Israel will be taken away to Babylon, continues with the lament in Psalm 137 which begins "By the waters of Babylon we sat down" then proceeds through the book of Revelation prophecies about Babylon the Great, before focussing on Daniel's account of Belshazzar's Feast. The work concludes by going back to Revelation to the song of rejoicing sung by the people of God when Babylon is no more.
Many cheaper CDs do not include the libretto, but this is not the case here.
I have not yet warmed to Vaughan Williams' Job, but have only listened to it a couple of times.
But the Walton is worth my 5 star rating.
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on 4 March 2013
An electrifying performance, well recorded. I have docked one star because this is a live performance, which I did not know when I ordered the CD. Fortunately the audience is fairly unobtrusive until the final well-deserved enthusiastic applause, Recommended.
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on 24 September 2015
A very good performance and recording, supposedly taken from a live BBC Prom, but audience presence has been deleted from the recording!
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on 5 May 2015
Excellent live performance of Belshazzar's Feast. Good for choral practice too, as the work is broken up into about 9 tracks.
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on 18 January 2015
A joy to listen to. choir and orchestra beautifully blended. Exciting and fearful at the same time.
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on 8 January 2016
to my taste. you have to be an enthusiast to enjoy.
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on 3 August 2015
First class recording of both compositions
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on 5 December 2015
Very good CD. Moving music.
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