Walton: Piano Quartet; Violin Sonata; Five Bagatelles

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COMPOSERS: Walton
LABELS: EMI Anglo-American Series
WORKS: Piano Quartet; Violin Sonata; Five Bagatelles
PERFORMER: Janice Graham (violin), Paul Silverthorne (viola), Moray Welsh (cello), Israela Margalit, John Alley (piano), Tom Kerstens (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55404 2
Walton is widely known by only a fragment of his output, but the addition of a broader range of his works to the catalogue is now allowing music lovers to discover the true worth of this great composer. This collection of chamber music, as if to prove the point, spans a fifty-year period.

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The early Piano Quartet, completed in 1921, dates from the time Walton was ‘discovered’ and supported by the Sitwells. It is a substantial piece, and its powerful, emotionally committed nature makes a strong impression, especially when performed with as much spirit as it is here. The two-movement Violin Sonata (1947), written for Yehudi Menuhin, is also a substantial work, and one which reflects the experience gained in writing a concerto for Jascha Heifetz a few years earlier. Janice Graham and John Alley play it with great assurance, both technically and expressively.

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Towards the end of Walton’s career, Julian Bream commissioned the masterly Five Bagatelles for guitar (1971), which explode the myth that the composer’s powers diminished in his final years. Tom Kerstens captures their mood and style well, if not with quite the panache of Bream himself, and he is aided by a nicely balanced recording. Terry Barfoot