William Walton: Henry V

Neville Marriner

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

William Walton: Henry V Review

by James Leonard

The concept behind the work called Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario is to take as much as possible of William Walton's score for Laurence Olivier's 1943 film and interpolate suitable excerpts from Shakespeare's play to make an hour-long concert work for speaker, chorus, and orchestra. Though it demands all your attention, the high quality of the result thoroughly rewards it, clearly and intelligently combining the two mediums in a single, arresting form. With the skillful and sympathetic Neville Marriner leading the always elegant Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields plus the energetic Westminster Cathedral Choristers and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chorus, the musical end of the production is in capable hands. And with the dramatic and heroic Christopher Plummer doing the talking, Shakespeare's text is very effectively declaimed. Premiered in 1990 and recorded in very vivid digital sound by Chandos the same year, this release adds a thrilling musical-dramatic performance to the catalog. The inclusion at the end of the disc of performances of the original sources for some of Walton's themes, two harpsichord works from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and a song from Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne, was a brilliant idea -- just remember to hit pause after the disc with the stirring end of Henry V or be prepared for a sonic shock!

blue highlight denotes track pick