Jamie Walton is an up-and-coming English cellist who has garnered
good reviews for his previous recordings. He was one of the last pupils of
the great William Pleeth whom Jacqueline du Pré referred to as her
“Cello Daddy”. Here we have two of the major nineteenth century
concertos and Walton is entering into a crowded marketplace, especially in
the Dvořák. I veer towards the romantic approach in these works
and expect my emotions to be tugged. Sadly despite fine playing, this is not
the case here.
The Schumann concerto is one of the composer’s later works and
is a heart-on-sleeve work. Having just heard Jacqueline Du Pré in
both a studio and live recording there was a lack of intensity in
Walton’s performance and in the accompaniment. There is no doubt of
Walton’s quality in playing but there seems some inability to project
the music to the listener. The slow movement instead verged towards the
syrupy and the finale lacked the intensity vital to this work.
The short Silent Woods
acts as an interlude between the two
concertos and is very well worth hearing. Ironically in this brief piece
Walton appears more at ease and delivers a fine presentation.
The Dvořák concerto is one of my favourite works and
here certainly started well. The orchestra is in fine form. This is better
than the Schumann but again it seems too introspective and lacks the spirit
found in the great performances. The slow movement is too matter of fact -
almost going through the motions. The finale started strangely but things
began to look up. There is nice interplay between soloist and orchestra
although it is still lacking in sheer grip. The playing of the Philharmonia
and conducting of Ashkenazy are very fine as is the recording. That said, I
wonder if the fact that only two days were used for recording meant that
there was less time than ideal.
There are just so many fine versions of these works in the catalogue
that this collection sadly fails to join them.
David R Dunsmore
Masterwork Index: Dvořák cello