Belshazzar’s Feast originated in 1929 with a BBC commission for a small-scale choral work. Walton accepted, and turned to Osbert Sitwell for a libretto, but found that his material quickly outgrew his original conception. We should not overlook the essential part played by Osbert Sitwell in the success of Belshazzar, for in working the Biblical words into a compact and vivid libretto, he removed it from the world of extended and wordy Victorian settings of the same story and encapsulated the dramatic images of the story in a form that allowed Walton’s emergent genius a canvas on which it could work. Indeed Walton’s tight control of his material is underlined by his remark that he regarded the work less as an oratorio than a three-movement choral symphony.
Total time: 01:20:09
|Original Recording Format|
Neil Hutchinson (Classics Sound)
Barbican, London England
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||January 1, 2016|
This release from the London Symphony Orchestra’s own LSO Live label has several big things going for it and may make a good choice for those wanting a single disc of William Walton’s orchestral music in their libraries on their hard drives. The DSD live sound is top-notch, with the massive percussion batteries of the oratorio coming through.
Most important of all, each work is consistent, technically clean, nicely shaped, and entirely satisfying, with good articulation by the London Symphony Chorus in Belshazzar’s Feast (texts are also included in the booklet). The Symphony No. 1 has a remarkable sense of presence and momentum in its slow movement.
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