William Walton's Violin Concerto in B minor was composed for Jascha Heifetz in the early 1940s; Heifetz took up the work enthusiastically, and it has remained popular since then. The clean, sparkling recording here by Anthony Marwood may well bring Heifetz to mind, but there are several other fine recordings on the market. The real value here for Walton lovers lies in the other works on the album, all from the latter part of Walton's career, none of them terribly common, and all done proud justice by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. The Partita for orchestra of 1957 is a three-movement work, ostensibly in Baroque forms, but inhabited throughout by brash, modern high spirits: sample its "Giga burlesca" finale for a good example of Walton's sense of fun. The Variations on a theme by Hindemith were a tribute to that aging composer, written in 1963 in time for Hindemith to hear the work before his death. The Spitfire Prelude and Fugue is a unique hybrid of patriotic film music and academic exercise; perhaps Walton is not the only composer who could have written it, but he's certainly the only one who could have made it interesting. There isn't a moment on the album that's less than lively, and it's recommended not only for Walton fans, but also for any lover of British orchestral music of the 20th century.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Violin Concerto in B minor|
|Partita for Orchestra|
|Variations on a theme by Hindemith|