Walton: Façade; Belshazzar’s Feast

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Façade; Belshazzar’s Feast
PERFORMER: Edith Sitwell, David Horner (reciters), Walter Cassel (baritone)Chamber Orchestra/Frederick Prausnitz; Rutgers University Choir, Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy
CATALOGUE NO: SMK 46685 ADD/DDD mono/stereo (1949/61)
Sitwell is unsurpassed as a performer of her own poems in Façade. This more sober early reading is less sleazy and eccentric than the famous Anthony Collins Decca version, but is marked by some fine ensemble, and the Sony transfer is very good. Despite some dazzling Philadephia brass, the Ormandy Belshazzar now sounds a bit thin, though he clocks up some cracking paces and the young American choir is excellent. With Previn, Hickox or Slatkin (with Thomas Allen) to choose from, it’s an unlikely first choice. But Ormandy’s does have an excitement akin to a live performance, and the coupling makes this a good introduction to Walton. Roderic Dunnett