Having owned this fine and well recorded coupling from 1977 for some fifteen years I feel that some sort of comment is due and is deserved. Ida Haendel certainly delivers deeply satisfying performances of both works which together make for a very rewarding coupling.
The two concertos were written within a very short time of each other but for most of their history it has been the Walton concerto that has been in the limelight and which has received by far the most critical acclaim. This situation still exists despite something of a recent increase of interest in the Britten work. Part of the difference in popularity is probably due to the more accessible idiom of the Walton work which is both lyrically appealing and spectacular in its demands. The Britten concerto, while also being lyrical and equally demanding as regards fireworks, is still more austere in its immediate effects and communication of musical ideas.
Ida Haendel, as previously mentioned, rises well to all the challenges both musical and technical. She is very well supported by both her musical colleagues and the recording team. While she may not have the power of a Kennedy or the quick-silvery gleam and flash of a Chung in both of their award winning recordings of the Walton, she still has plenty to say in ways that pass the tests of time. Her performance of the Britten also passes the tests of time even though she does not have the harder glitter of Lubotsky or the warmth of McAslan. Rather than either of those two extremes she holds the centre ground most convincingly.
This then is a distinguished disc and fully deserves to be considered along with the other front runners. Other fine recordings of the Walton would include those by Ehnes, Bell, Little and Kang as well as Kennedy and Chung. The collector is spoiled for choice.