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Walton: Symphony No. 2 / Violin Concerto / Scapino--A Comedy Overture

William Walton , Andrew Litton , Bournemouth Symphony , Tasmin Little Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Tasmin Little
  • Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony
  • Conductor: Andrew Litton
  • Composer: William Walton
  • Audio CD (January 23, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: London
  • ASIN: B00000426G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,315 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Violin Concerto: Scapino - A Comedy Overture
2. Violin Concerto: Andante tranquillo
3. Violin Concerto: Presto capriccioso alla napolitana
4. Violin Concerto: Vivace
5. Symphony No. 2: Allegro molto
6. Symphony No. 2: Lento assai
7. Symphony No. 2: Passacaglia

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid May 5, 2009
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I have three CDs of Litton conducting Walton, and this is the best of them. The Scapino Overture is bright and witty, with a sort of quicksilver quality. I am a fan of Tasmin Little, and ordered this disc because of her. Her performance of the Violin Concerto is typically warm, though with no shortage of virtuosity. At times I feel her playing here is a little too softgrained, when the soloist should be taking charge. But her performance of the last movement is truly splendid. The highlight of the disc is the Second Symphony. Litton's interpretation is of the same order as the classic analogue accounts by Szell and Previn. He is accorded much better sound, however, a quality hard to ignore in a work very few Americans are likely to encounter in the concert hall. There is a sublime, worldly wise quality to this Symphony, very different from Walton's brassy First Symphony. Litton captures this somewhat wistful characteristic beautifully, and his orchestra plays splendidly. It's worth noting that since I started collecting Litton's Walton, his 3 CDs have been collected in a budget priced box. I think if I had to start collecting these recordings now, that is the route I would take.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The disc, recorded in the mid 1990s, contains two of the most popular Walton works and one of the least known as far as concert performances go. All three receive committed performances and the recording quality is excellent.

Walton's Scapino overture is essentially a sunny piece of work and was written while staying at his home in Italy. The music is not a detailed program piece such as Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel, but it inhabits the same world of roguish behaviour and general high spirits. This performance does the work full justice.

The violin concerto was the result of a commission from Heifetz and, after a prolonged delay in the composition, was first performed in 1939. It was immediately recognised as a masterpiece and as such can be considered as one of the great 20th century violin concertos. Tasmin Little provides a sparking account of the score and one that can reasonably be compared with other fine performances such as those by Kennedy and Chung for example. Kennedy provides a heavier-toned and interpreted performance nd Chung provides a quick-silvered approach. Both of those performances received Gramophone awards when first released, still sound as rewarding today and should not be discounted. I only mention them as recognised examples of equal excellence but with different approaches. Some of these tonal differences, of course, are also the result of different violins being used, each of which has its own unique input.

Getting back to Tasmin Little, I would rate her performance along with those of both Kennedy and Chung, but I would not replace either of them with this. The only solution is to have all three - the music is worth the duplication!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Lyrical Performances June 1, 2010
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This is a well-played selection of William Walton's music. The Scapino overture was inspired by a comic character that appeared in a series of engravings made in the 1620s. The Violin Concerto was inspired by the Amalfi coast in southern Italy and was written for Jascha Heifitz. The concerto was started in 1938, with a break for the writing of Scapino, and completed in 1939. The concerto has a dreamy, lyrical mood in the first movement that is evocative of the sights on the Amalfi coast. The middle movement is a Scherzo based upon a Neapolitan melody. It has shares similar energy with Scapino but after the playfully abrupt start the dreamy atmosphere of the first movement returns, casting a spell until the original melody breaks in. The Finale begins with a brisk melody that is interspersed with the lyrical melody from the first movement. An extended cadenza for the soloist returns to the lyrical theme of the concerto. The tempo picks up and the concerto ends with a flourish.

I heard another recording of Walton's Second Symphony and came away not caring much for the music. When I heard Andrew Litton's performance, I changed my mind. The symphony was written in the late 1950's and first performed in 1960. Ischia, the composer's home, is among the influences here. The Second Symphony differs from the first in its more mellow tone. The brass has been limited in favor of lighter sounds, however, the symphony does not lack for drama. The first movement begins with a dreamy, pastoral theme that quickly develops into energetic leaps by the orchestra. The slow movement begins with a lyrical theme that becomes more passionate. The music returns to the lyrical melody takes on a mysterious feel, fading away.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bravura concerto and reticent symphony June 29, 2000
The Walton violin concerto is somewhat of a warhorse, and I can't help but think that Little's showy interpretation doesn't help matters. I think that a less virtuosic interpretation would endear me more to the piece. As it is, the piece is a bit too saccharine for my taste. The interesting and overshadowed 2nd symphony has a lot to offer, though it is not quite as rewarding as the impressive 1st. Walton toys with more advanced musical techniques, including serialism (the passacaglia theme is 12-tone). Though there is nothing too radical in it, it goes to show that Walton didn't rest on his laurels. The slow movement is especially soulful.
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