Jamie Walton / Alexander Briger

Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2; Britten: Cello Symphony

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For his second Signum recording, English cellist Jamie Walton has taken on two of the biggest and most difficult works in his instrument's 20th century repertoire, Shostakovich's dark Second Cello Concerto and Britten's massive Symphony for cello and orchestra. Teamed with conductor Alexander Briger and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Walton delivers eloquent and often deeply moving performances. As listeners familiar with his earlier recordings know, Walton has a supremely polished technique and a warmly singing tone, and he uses both to tremendous effect here. His Shostakovich concerto is big-boned but finely detailed, and the sense of release at its close is amazingly touching. The Britten symphony is perhaps even better, a brooding but expressive account that brings out the best in the work. Briger is a partner in the performances, matching and balancing Walton in the Britten so that the work comes across as a true symphony. As always, the Philharmonia is a first-rate orchestra with a noble tone and a unified ensemble, and Signum provides cool but very present digital sound.

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