James chooses some of his favourite recordings of music by one of the greatest twentieth-century British composers, William Walton.
Power is a latter-day Orpheus, an expression of musics power to disarm, encourage, soothe and serenade (Financial Times) This recent appraisal of Lawrence Power affirms his status as one of the foremost violists of today. His unremitting musical eloquence and brilliant technical ability have consistently drawn the highest praise for all his recordings and performances. In our record of the month for June, Lawrence is joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov. The disc brings together three major pieces by two outstanding and highly individual English composers. Waltons Viola Concerto is one of his greatest workshaunted throughout by the dreamy opening melody, yet suffused with action and vigour, exhibiting the dazzling, biting brilliance familiar from works such as Faade. The eloquent epilogue, wrote Waltons biographer Michael Kennedy, remains the single most beautiful passage in all his music, sensuous yet full of uncertainty. It is presented here in the original 1928 version in its first modern recording. Rubbras Viola Concerto is also one of its composers major works, demonstrating the new musical depths he had sounded with his Sixth Symphony and showing influences of the symphonic traditions of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. Alongside it we have the first recording of Rubbras Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn for solo viola, an extended virtuoso work of religious and solemn aspect. Lawrence Powers instinctive understanding and feel for this music together with the great musicianship of his collaborators make this a disc as much to be treasured as their recent recordings of York Bowen and Cecil Forsyth concertos.