Walton: The Twelve; Coronation Te Deum; Drop, Drop, Slow Tears

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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: The Twelve; Coronation Te Deum; Drop, Drop, Slow Tears
PERFORMER: Polyphony, Wallace Collection/Stephen Layton; James Vivian (organ)
This collection of Walton’s smaller choral works includes the four carols omitted from the recent Naxos issue with the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, and gets off to a resounding start with the short Queen’s Fanfare from 1959, leading unauthentically but seamlessly into the Coronation Te Deum. In its original scoring with brass, organ and percussion, this has the confidence and swagger familiar from Belshazzar’s Feast, as well as moments of lyricism, and most of the other pieces follow one or other of these paths. Outstanding are the reflective Where does the Uttered Music go? written in memory of Henry Wood, and The Twelve, whose words by Auden give Walton the space to create a more extended structure, almost like a miniature cantata. Many of the shorter pieces are no more than chips off the old block, written to commission, and hearing them in quick succession points up the recurrence of particular harmonic and rhythmic quirks (‘Make we joy’ and ‘All this time’ are virtually anagrams of each other): but it’s good to hear the young composer finding himself through the three versions of Drop, Drop Slow Tears. Performances are vibrant and energetic, and attack the scrunchy harmonies with complete accuracy. Martin Cotton