This release offers a pair of top-notch William Walton compositions in technically sharp performances adorned by absolutely superb recorded sound that makes the central feature of Walton's orchestration, the transparency of winds and brass even in loud, dense passages, completely apparent. Violinist Tasmin Little turns in an unimpeachable performance in the technically punishing Violin Concerto, composed in 1939 for Jascha Heifetz and heard here in a revised version of 1943. But the album is really the work of conductor Edward Gardner, who has excelled in performances of opera and of large late Romantic and early 20th-century works from other countries. He seems to have drilled the BBC Symphony Orchestra within an inch of its life, and the result shows in the angular outer movements of the Symphony No. 1, where the brass work is crisp indeed. Some might find recordings where the contrast between tension and noble lyricism is more affectingly drawn (André Previn's classic reading comes to mind), or a violin concerto with a more commanding solo presence (the old Zino Francescatti is a favorite), but you're not going to get it all rendered in Chandos Super Audio sound, and the bottom line is that this is a good choice for a basic collection of music by a composer whose star is on the way up.
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