No messing around - this is a cracking Walton collection.
The Spitfire piece begins in slow sunrise languor and the artists
bring out a most touching and vulnerable quality in the big tune. At 2.28
the wraith of Elgar 2 passes across the loudspeakers. The fugue is resplendently
active with wall-slapping impact.
After the violin concerto, the Sinfonia Concertante is my favourite
Walton concerto. Now if he had only called it a Piano Concerto it might have
made more headway. As it is people have to discover it despite its title.
The three movements are dedicated to and inspired by members of the Sitwell
family who had taken Walton under their wing: 1 Osbert; 2. Edith and 3.
Sacheverell. That first movement has resonances with Ireland's Piano Concerto.
How many memories are locked in the pages of these movements? This performance
of the Osbert movement emphasises the Hispanic shadow and brilliance of the
writing. The climax at 6.40 has all the snappy syncopation and emotional
blitz of a choreographed thunderstorm. The second movement's peacefulness
relates back to the romantic endeavour of the first movement. The finale
has an infectious zest.
The Hindemith Variations are rather bright, spare and nervy, well
demonstrating the tonal finesse of the recording. The march written for a
TV adaptation of Churchill's history is a nice adjunct to the two famous
Walton marches. By heck Walton was good at this sort of thing! At a less
obvious level there is some nice work for the flutes too.
A winner - marked down only because of the limited playing time. There was
room for more.