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Walton: Symphony No. 1 | Violin Concerto Hybrid SACD, SACD

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Walton: Symphony No. 1 | Violin Concerto
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  • Walton:Orchestral Works [Edward Gardner, Paul Watkins; BBC Symphony Orchestra] [CHANDOS : CHSA 5153]
Total price: £28.37
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Product details

  • Conductor: Edward Gardner
  • Composer: Sir William Walton
  • Audio CD (28 April 2014)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00J9SEX6Q
  • Other Editions: CD-ROM  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,352 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No 1 - BBC Symphony Orchestra
  2. Violin Concerto - BBC Symphony Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

SUPER AUDIO CD IN SURROUND SOUNDEdward Gardner, a Chandos exclusive artist, conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in two great masterpieces by William Walton, his Violin Concerto and the Symphony No. 1. Walton burst onto the British musical scene in his twenties, the success of works such as Façade, the Viola Concerto, and Belshazzar's Feast establishing him in both the avant-garde and the mainstream of British composers. The obvious next step for Walton was to compose a symphony and he was duly commissioned to do so by Sir Hamilton Harty in 1932. The first complete performance of his Symphony No. 1, in 1935, was a triumph, immediately gaining the work an honoured place in British music which it has never lost. It is a highly virtuosic work with a remarkable expressive range, in turns powerful and broad, malicious, melancholic, and majestic.

The Violin Concerto was written in 1938 in response to a commission from Jascha Heifetz. The solo part reflects not only the legendary virtuosity for which Heifetz was famous, but also the sweetness and purity of his playing of long lyrical lines. In this recording the soloist is Tasmin Little whose acclaimed recordings of concertos by Britten, Elgar, Delius, and Moeran on Chandos have already established her as one of the foremost interpreters of British music for the violin.


Two masterworks of English music, graced with top-flight interpretations from two exceptional artists and a classy orchestra: what's not to like? Performance ***** Recording ***** BBC MUSIC CHOICE RECORDING OF THE MONTH --BBC Music Magazine, June'14

There is something rather tame about Walton's music, its depths of despair or heights of ecstasy never quite overstepping the bounds of what is polite and proper. But it is finely crafted, full of interesting detail, and beautifully presented in this BBCSO recording conducted by Edward Gardner. In the symphony, the rich textures are built up in layers a pulsing ostinato in the middle strings, a melody pulled this way and that, big brass stabs and a steady hand is needed to keep these elements from grating against each other. There are moments in the first movement on this recording that feel on the verge of looseness, but Gardner doesn t let too much flex creep in. Through the more jaggedly rhythmic second movement with the famous con malizia (with malice) direction and the lavish melancholy of the third, to the triumphant finale, this is a very enjoyable recording of the symphony. The violin concerto, Tasmin Little's second recording of it, reinforces her position as one of the very top advocates of the work, as she is of British music in general. It is an exceptionally warm and lyrical sound and just as light and agile when it needs to be. The cadenza in the third movement is a masterclass in controlled intensity. This hybrid SA-CD gives you the option of 5.0 surround sound if you have the kit, but sounds balanced and roomy in plain stereo too. **** --Sinfini Music, 29/5/14

Could this be the one, the Holy Grail for Walton fans? A new recording of his Symphony no 1 that measures up to André Previn's famous LSO version, taped in 1966 and still sounding fresh? Previn's disc remains a remarkable artefact, the only account of this uneven work which will make you believe it's a masterpiece. The symphony's detractors have plenty to get their teeth into the shameless borrowings from Sibelius, the crudeness of expression, the macho posturing. But, performed with conviction, it can be a thrilling experience. Edward Gardner's swift tempi bode well, and he's blessed with razor-sharp orchestral playing. He guides us through the first movement's guilty pleasures as well as anyone, and doesn't peak too soon, making the brassy pile up before the recapitulation suitably savage. The ensuing duel between tuba and low horns is terrific. Gardner's scherzo is exciting and witty, though lacking the last degree of menace. The slow movement is beautifully done sensuous, delicate, looking forward to Walton's post-war output. If the piece had stopped at three movements, you'd be happy. But that uneven finale boasting too many ideas, its grandiloquent climax failing to resolve what's gone on before, invariably leaves me wanting. Previn's is the only recording that has convinced me otherwise. I'm being picky Chandos's sound is rich, full-bodied, and there's a generous coupling. Walton's Violin Concerto is an entertaining work soloist Tasmin Little is on good form, particularly in the first movement's mercurial central section. Alas, I've been spoiled by too many recent recordings of Britten's concerto, and the Walton doesn't carry the same emotional charge. The closing minutes of the finale are beautifully done, though - Little's smouldering cadenza interrupted by the perkiest of codas. --ArtsDesk, 7/6/14

This exceptionally vital newcomer occupies a lofty position within the First Symphony's distinguished discography. RECORDING OF THE MONTH --Gramphone, July'14

Critics Choice --Gramophone, Dec'14

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Superb performances of both works. Gardner's interpretation of the Symphony (which I first heard in the Royal Albert Hall in 1950 and didn't understand at the age of 12! but has now become one of my favourite symphonies) is given a very fresh approach bringing out the dynamism and spikiness of Walton's amazing score. The recording quality is superb and the listener is able to hear details of every single orchestral line. An outstanding performance which must be the best ever recorded.
The Violin Concerto is also one of my favourite concertos which I first heard on Heifetz's recording in the early 50's. Tasmin Little plays this outstanding concerto with a freshness and deep understanding of the work. Her playing is absolutely wonderful over the entire range of the score which must contain some of the longest passages in a very high register. Emotionally very moving in the lyrical passages but electrifying in the dramatic episodes. BRILLIANT!

All in all a fabulous disc not to be missed.
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This is the first really serious challenger to the famous, and many would say 'definitive' reading. by Previn and the LSO from as long ago as 1966. There have been several recording of the symphony since then but none have matched its drive and brilliance with both orchestra and conductor on top form. The symphony itself was ideally suited to the jazz-experienced and flamboyant side to Previn's personality.

Gardner, on this 2013 recording, has the apparent great advantages of the outstandingly natural Chandos recording which is also offered in an SACD option for those with surround sound facility, plus and orchestra that can come close to matching Previn's LSO. Gardner also shows clear empathy with the Walton idiom.

The two movements where Gardner draws level with Previn's interpretation and delivery are the last two and especially the final movement which carries great conviction. The first two movements, while being more than a match for most of the previous competition, still fall short of the sheer energy and no-compromise drive of Previn. This is not to under-rate the considerable achievement of Gardner nor the BBC orchestra in those two movements. It is just simply that they, like everyone else before, is ranged against a team that delivered a superhuman effort.

Nevertheless there are problems in obtaining the Previn disc at present with the original non-remastered version being the one most readily available. However there is a Japanese remastered 24 bit version from original sources available from Japan on the Japanese RCA label. That is one of the most stunning remastered successes that I have yet heard and it comes with a superb recording of the Viola concerto played by Yuri Bashmet which is arguably by far the best version yet recorded of that concerto.
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It has long been accepted that the 1960s recorded performance by Andre Previn and the LSO as the leading interpretation. Their have been many good recordings since then (and I have most of them), some came close but none have equalled Previn's electrifying account until now. The BBC Symphony Orchestra directed by Edward Gardner may have just equalled that legionary performance with a recorded sound of top quality as has become the norm from CHANDOS. Also we must not overlook the fill-up of the Violin Concerto performed by Tasmin Little, in a top class performance. This cd must surly now sit alongside the Andre Previn 1960s release.
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The Previn/LSO recording of Walton's First has long been my benchmark, with good reason, edging out recordings by Walton himself, Colin Davis and a couple of others.

This new recording from Gardner and the BBC SO may sneak ahead, capturing the fieriness and spiky qualities, the malice of the second movement, the tensions and the release, the Sibelian expansiveness of the last movement at least as well as Previn. Where it edges ahead is the recording itself, which is clearer, more detailed, more atmospheric than the old RCA (NB this refers to the SACD layer, played through a fairly high end SACD player - I haven't listened to just the red book layer yet, but will report back on that).

Definitely a worthwhile purchase.

PS The Violin Concerto isn't bad...Actually, it is very good indeed.

ETA I've had a good listen to the red book layer now: should have done this first, as the SACD layer is clearly superior, with instruments just sounding more "real" and detailed. That said the CD layer is still very good, so don't let that comment deter you if you don't have a SACD player, as the performances are definitely worthwhile.
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If anyone is looking to buy their first Walton 1, look no further. It is well played, is interpretatively first class and wonderfully recorded. Much the same can be said for the Violin Concerto. Here Tamsin Little is on tremendous form.
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Some 61 years ago, the first LP I purchased was ALP1027, Walton's First and then only symphony. Walton conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra. Since then the work has retained an important place in my musical life. I have acquired many recordings, but the only one, thus far, to have really impressed was the Previn LSO RCA recording. Now, at last, this performance excels all both from the performance point of view as well as the quality of the recording. Now I'm sorry to go on about ancient recordings, but, for the Violin concerto, I went on to purchase a 10 inch BLP of Heifetz, the Philharmonia Orchestra, again conducted by the composer. I have given myself time to listen to Little's performance for a year now. I admit the recorded sound is good, although perhaps there are occasions where Little is almost overwhelmed by the excellent orchestral accompaniment, but there feels to be an occasional lack of incisiveness to Little's performance. If you get the chance to hear the Heifetz performance you may hear what I mean. Having said that, it would be carping to downgrade this disc from the five stars it clearly deserves.
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