Author Topic: Sir William Walton  (Read 42223 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #260 on: May 16, 2019, 06:06:35 AM »
That is a great recording right there. I should revisit it at some juncture. Symphony No. 2 always struck me as one of the more underrated works in Walton’s oeuvre.

I must listen to this disc again.  I remember it being received very well indeed and my remembered impression was "good but nothing exceptionally exceptional".  I agree about Symphony 2 - there are several performances I enjoy starting with the remarkable Szell but also Previn's version and Mackerras amongst others..

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #261 on: May 16, 2019, 06:22:16 AM »
I must listen to this disc again.  I remember it being received very well indeed and my remembered impression was "good but nothing exceptionally exceptional".  I agree about Symphony 2 - there are several performances I enjoy starting with the remarkable Szell but also Previn's version and Mackerras amongst others..

What I like about Brabbins’ style or approach in general seems that he’s coming from a different angle to the music he conducts. His RVW has proven this rather well. I’ll have to listen to the Previn at some point. I’m not a huge Mackerras fan except in Czech repertoire, so I’ll ignore his performance. :)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #262 on: May 16, 2019, 09:41:05 AM »
Cross-posted from the ‘Purchases’ thread -
A great album - all three works.
 :)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #263 on: May 16, 2019, 05:19:43 PM »
A great album - all three works.
 :)

Yeah, I’ve read nothing great things about Szell’s performance of Walton’s 2nd. Can’t wait to hear it.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Brian

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #264 on: May 17, 2019, 05:41:30 AM »
Lucky you, that's an awesome piece to hear live. I heard CSO do it last year under Bychkov.
Got to see it live here in Dallas this year under Carlos Kalmar. It really is a thriller live, especially if you accidentally score seats in the third row and the climaxes just about blow your eardrums out. Might have to wait another 15 years to see it live again, but when the chance arises, I will.

Offline Brian

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #265 on: May 17, 2019, 06:07:30 AM »
Just read through this whole thread looking to see if anyone had praised the "Capriccio burlesco," a short 7 minute piece which I stumbled on the other day and found absolutely terrific. Would make a good concert opener, or maybe an opener to the second half - it's short, punchy, has lots of big brass, and is a lot like the sound-world of the First Symphony, to the point where it seems like it could have been a substitute for that symphony's scherzo.

To me the first movement is as good as anything any Brit ever wrote and the fourth movement is a let down.

I judge recordings of Walton 1 on just two criteria: excitement, and whether the finale sounds like it belongs or not. The very best performances convince me that the finale fits and succeeds, but it does take a lot of interpretive work to get to that point. The real problem with the symphony, I think, is that even if you get the finale to work convincingly, the slow movement just is not that special. All the fun stuff is loud and fast.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #266 on: May 17, 2019, 06:54:54 AM »
Just read through this whole thread looking to see if anyone had praised the "Capriccio burlesco," a short 7 minute piece which I stumbled on the other day and found absolutely terrific. Would make a good concert opener, or maybe an opener to the second half - it's short, punchy, has lots of big brass, and is a lot like the sound-world of the First Symphony, to the point where it seems like it could have been a substitute for that symphony's scherzo.

I judge recordings of Walton 1 on just two criteria: excitement, and whether the finale sounds like it belongs or not. The very best performances convince me that the finale fits and succeeds, but it does take a lot of interpretive work to get to that point. The real problem with the symphony, I think, is that even if you get the finale to work convincingly, the slow movement just is not that special. All the fun stuff is loud and fast.

Capriccio burlesco is a fun piece that I agree with. What I don’t agree with you about is the slow movement of first symphony. I’ve since come around to it and really feel that it’s integral to the work’s overall musical arch. A work shouldn’t be all brash and bold with no relief. Walton was too smart for that. I think the slow movement is beautiful in its’ understatement, but it also has this brooding quality to it that I particularly like.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 06:58:41 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Irons

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #267 on: May 17, 2019, 06:55:18 AM »
The familiar rat-a-tat of enemy machine-guns joined the melee. It was like an orchestra from hell, it’s tune being played out by the instruments of death. - The Sun Will Always Shine, John R McKay.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #268 on: May 17, 2019, 06:56:28 AM »
Got to see it live here in Dallas this year under Carlos Kalmar. It really is a thriller live, especially if you accidentally score seats in the third row and the climaxes just about blow your eardrums out. Might have to wait another 15 years to see it live again, but when the chance arises, I will.

It makes sense that Kalmar would do it. He did Belshazzar's Feast in Grant Park last year, and I've heard him do 3 VW symphonies over the years (with a 4th, the London, scheduled for this summer).
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #269 on: May 17, 2019, 10:00:30 PM »
Capriccio burlesco is a fun piece that I agree with. What I don’t agree with you about is the slow movement of first symphony. I’ve since come around to it and really feel that it’s integral to the work’s overall musical arch. A work shouldn’t be all brash and bold with no relief. Walton was too smart for that. I think the slow movement is beautiful in its’ understatement, but it also has this brooding quality to it that I particularly like.

Count me in as a fan of 'Capriccio Burlesco' I have a fine performances conducted by Charles Groves. I agree that Symphony 1 has the claim to be one of the greatest 20th Century symphonies. I don't actually think that any of the other movements of the symphony live quite up to the first movement which I've always thought of as a kind of mini-symphony in itself and I prefer the slow movement of the Second Symphony to that of the first. I've never had any problem with the finale which I think works perfectly.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #270 on: May 18, 2019, 04:35:16 AM »
Count me in as a fan of 'Capriccio Burlesco' I have a fine performances conducted by Charles Groves. I agree that Symphony 1 has the claim to be one of the greatest 20th Century symphonies. I don't actually think that any of the other movements of the symphony live quite up to the first movement which I've always thought of as a kind of mini-symphony in itself and I prefer the slow movement of the Second Symphony to that of the first. I've never had any problem with the finale which I think works perfectly.

From Wikipedia:

The slow movement is in my opinion the nodal section of the work. Its structure is melodic, its character idyllic and contemplative, but in an intimately personal way, with a feeling of melancholy and of craving expectancy which is wholly removed from the "yearning" of the Romantics. It is in some ways the most significant piece of music Walton has written.

I wouldn’t say it’s the most significant piece of music Walton has written, but I would agree that this movement has made quite an impression on me lately. It pretty much sums up how I feel about it. Despite the sections of climatic brilliance, I find the more hushed nature of the movement to be be particularly telling. This almost gives us a window into some kind of grieving that Walton was going through. There are moments like this throughout in oeuvre that make my ears really perk up and take note of. It’s almost like after the crash and bangs of what came before, he has these moments of deep contemplation. In this regard, he reminds of Elgar (in a completely different musical language of course) with the emotional ups and downs almost as if he has a musical bi-polar disorder.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #271 on: May 18, 2019, 04:40:14 AM »
Here’s a question for everyone: what is/are your favorite performance(s) of Belshazaar’s Feast?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 04:41:47 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #272 on: May 18, 2019, 05:42:50 AM »
Here’s a question for everyone: what is/are your favorite performance(s) of Belshazaar’s Feast?

Hull Choral Society, scratch orchestra, Raimund Herincx (bass-baritone), can't remember the conductor - thrilling performance in Hull City Hall, (ca. 1972)

Realistically, Previn/LSO & Chorus/John Shirley Quirk

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #273 on: May 18, 2019, 05:53:04 AM »
Realistically, Previn/LSO & Chorus/John Shirley Quirk

I’d say that Previn’s recording with the RPO is better than his LSO performance, but that’s just my opinion.
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #274 on: May 18, 2019, 06:05:00 AM »
I’d say that Previn’s recording with the RPO is better than his LSO performance, but that’s just my opinion.

I have never heard Previn/RPO. The only other version I have is Rattle, coupled with the 1st Symphony, both decent performance but neither displace Previn/LSO in both works. Never felt the need for any other recordings.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #275 on: May 18, 2019, 06:34:28 AM »
I have never heard Previn/RPO. The only other version I have is Rattle, coupled with the 1st Symphony, both decent performance but neither displace Previn/LSO in both works. Never felt the need for any other recordings.

I’ve acquired quite a few Belshazzar’s Feast performances through the years. The latest one I bought has been Willcocks on Chandos. I’ve read good things about this particular performance.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

SymphonicAddict

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #276 on: May 18, 2019, 05:34:16 PM »
From Wikipedia:

The slow movement is in my opinion the nodal section of the work. Its structure is melodic, its character idyllic and contemplative, but in an intimately personal way, with a feeling of melancholy and of craving expectancy which is wholly removed from the "yearning" of the Romantics. It is in some ways the most significant piece of music Walton has written.

I wouldn’t say it’s the most significant piece of music Walton has written, but I would agree that this movement has made quite an impression on me lately. It pretty much sums up how I feel about it. Despite the sections of climatic brilliance, I find the more hushed nature of the movement to be be particularly telling. This almost gives us a window into some kind of grieving that Walton was going through. There are moments like this throughout in oeuvre that make my ears really perk up and take note of. It’s almost like after the crash and bangs of what came before, he has these moments of deep contemplation. In this regard, he reminds of Elgar (in a completely different musical language of course) with the emotional ups and downs almost as if he has a musical bi-polar disorder.

The slow movement is the perfect balance for the exhilarating and epic rest of the piece. I love it, and I like both slow movements of Walton's symphonies, and I can't decide which one is better.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #277 on: May 18, 2019, 06:08:44 PM »
The slow movement is the perfect balance for the exhilarating and epic rest of the piece. I love it, and I like both slow movements of Walton's symphonies, and I can't decide which one is better.

Yes, indeed. I’m definitely going to get better acquainted with the 2nd symphony this weekend. I remember enjoying it rather well and didn’t feel letdown by it at all as some commentators have said (i. e. it doesn’t live up to the 1st symphony), but my argument is it doesn’t have to. I wished Walton had composed another symphony, but perhaps he felt he had said what he wanted to say in this medium.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #278 on: May 19, 2019, 12:17:41 AM »
Here’s a question for everyone: what is/are your favorite performance(s) of Belshazaar’s Feast?
Always liked this one although it was my first encounter with the work:

Also I don't think that you can go wrong with this great double CD set which contains fine performances of the symphony and Belshazzar's Feast. Walton was a fine conductor of his own music:
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 12:28:06 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Sir William Walton
« Reply #279 on: May 19, 2019, 05:40:11 AM »
Always liked this one although it was my first encounter with the work:

Also I don't think that you can go wrong with this great double CD set which contains fine performances of the symphony and Belshazzar's Feast. Walton was a fine conductor of his own music:


I never could count myself in the Ormandy camp, so I wouldn’t bother listening to his Belshazzar’s Feast. The Walton-led performances do look interesting, but I don’t like Menuhin’s violin playing so I would definitely skip over his performances. Another problem I might have is the fidelity of those Walton-led performances. I’m not sure how they sound.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy