Walton: Viola Concerto; Sonata for String Orchestra; Variations on a Theme by Hindemith

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COMPOSERS: Walton
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Viola Concerto; Sonata for String Orchestra; Variations on a Theme by Hindemith
PERFORMER: Nobuko Imai (viola); London Philharmonic/Jan Latham-Koenig
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9106 DDD
Performance royalties from the Walton estate supported this intelligently planned recording which generously presents three of his most substantial works. By including the Viola Concerto and Hindemith Variations, the close relationship that existed between Walton and Hindemith is easily identified. Viola concertos are not thick on the ground, but the great English virtuoso Lionel Tertis, for whom this concerto was written, rejected it as, almost inconceivably, too modern! Against the wishes of his publisher, Hindemith came to the rescue, making his London début in 1929 as the soloist. Nobuko Imai turns in an impressive and expansive performance, despite some thinness of tone in the upper registers. Whereas a rather over-reverberant sound balance leads in the concerto to an orchestral sound that is lush and warm, the Sonata (a transcription of the 1947 String Quartet) and Hindemith Variations suffer from a lack of edge and articulation, and at times Hindemith’s jaunty rhythms seem not solidly controlled. But Latham-Koenig’s approach is passionate and musical, with the LPO brass notably exciting. Annette Morreau

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