James Ehnes / Edward Gardner / BBC Symphony Orchestra

Walton: Viola Concerto; Partita for Orchestra; Sonata for String Orchestra

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This recording by British violinist James Ehnes, moving up a weight class for the Viola Concerto of William Walton, fits into a larger revival of critical fortunes for Walton, who suffered along with Vaughan Williams at the hands of the modernist nomenklatura. It's a fine outing for Ehnes, who brings out several of the qualities that made Walton appealing in the first place. He takes brisk tempos throughout the Viola Concerto, upping the technical challenges to himself but also giving the work an edge it lacks in more languorous interpretations. Sample the finale, which is ebullient fun here, and in which Ehnes doesn't let you hear any of the stress involved. Conductor Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra build on the concerto with two rarely heard (to date) late orchestral works that each relate to the concerto in different ways. The Sonata for String Orchestra of 1971 is an arrangement by Walton and Malcolm Arnold of Walton's String Quartet in A minor, and the delightful Partita for Orchestra of 1957 is a brisk neoclassic work with a lovely slow movement. The BBC Symphony has a characteristic precise and self-effacing quality, and the program is engaging from beginning to end, enhanced by excellent Super Audio sound from Chandos.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
1 07:50
2 04:04
3 11:44
Sonata for String Orchestra
4 08:34
5 04:11
6 08:59
7 04:32
Partita for Orchestra
8 04:33
9 06:11
10 04:59
blue highlight denotes track pick