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Façades: Music by William Walton and Constant Lambert

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0614
Release Date: 05/01/2020
Number of Discs: 1
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SOMM Recordings explores one of the most significant partnerships in 20th-century British music with Façades, a disc of piano-accompanied songs and music for four-hand piano by William Walton and Constant Lambert. The two shared a friendship of nearly 30 years until Lambert’s death in 1951, aged 45.

Façades takes its title from Walton’s era-defining “entertainment”, heard here in arrangements for four-hand piano of its two orchestral Suites by Lambert – regarded by Walton as the definitive reciter of Edith Sitwell’s nonsense verses.

Lambert’s Trois pièces nègres pour les touches blanches for piano duet are a kaleidoscopic, jazz-accented tour de force exploration of the piano’s white keys. Described by the composer as an “idyll”, Walton’s Siesta (also for two-player piano) is, says Ronald Woodley in his entertaining and informative booklet notes, “infused with the clear light and open charm of Italy”.

The eight-song settings by Lambert of poems by the eighth-century Chinese poet Li Po are “exquisitely crafted, restrained and often enigmatic miniatures [marked by an] elusive and allusive musical style”.

Completing the recital, a selection of songs by Walton range from Tudor pastiche (Under the Greenwood Tree) to the atonal-inflected Tritons and lyrically captivating Beatriz’s Song.

Making their SOMM debuts are tenor James Geer and his accompanist in the songs, pianist Ronald Woodley. The latter is joined at the keyboard in the four-hand piano arrangements by Andrew West whose previous SOMM recordings include three acclaimed volumes of Parry’s English Lyrics (SOMMCD 257, 270 and 272).

SOMM has also released two volumes of Constant Lambert conducting: a compendium of his last recordings including Walton’s Façade Suites (SOMMCD 023) and ballet music by Tchaikovsky, Meyerbeer and Rossini (SOMMCD 080). SOMM’s Walton discography includes Sir Adrian Boult conducting the First Symphony and Belshazzar’s Feast (SOMMCD 094).

On This Recording

    Constant Lambert:
    Trois pièces nègres pour les touches blanches for piano duet bc

  1. I. Aubade
  2. II. Siesta
  3. III. Nocturne
  4. William Walton

  5. The Winds ac
  6. Daphne ac
  7. Tritons ac
  8. Lambert
    Four Poems by Li Po ac

  9. I. A Summer Day
  10. II. Nocturne
  11. III. With a Man of Leisure
  12. IV. Lines
  13. Walton

  14. Siesta for Piano Duet bc
  15. Under the Greenwood Tree ac
  16. Beatriz’s Song (arr. Christopher Palmer) ac
  17. Lambert
    Three Poems by Li Po ac

  18. I. The Ruin of the Ku-Su Palace
  19. II. The Intruder
  20. III. On the City Street
  21. Lambert

  22. The Long-Departed Lover ac
  23. Walton (arr. Constant Lambert)
    Façade Suite No. 1 for piano duet bc

  24. Polka
  25. Valse
  26. Swiss Jodelling Song
  27. Tango Pasodoblé
  28. Tarantella Sevillana
  29. Façade Suite No. 2 for piano duet bc

  30. Fanfare
  31. Scotch Rhapsody
  32. Country Dance
  33. Noche Espagnola
  34. Popular Song
  35. Fox-Trot

a James Geer, tenor
b Andrew West, piano
c Ronald Woodley, piano

Reviews:

“The naughty cover of this CD, showing scantily-clad flappers dancing the tango, sets you up for a feast of 1920s jazz-flavoured wit. … The parade of Foxtrots, Scotch Rhapsodies, Polkas and Tangos saunters by in lithe, light-fingered performances from Andrew West and Ronald Woodley, with the crisp clearness of a black-and-white etching. … In all it’s a wonderful collection of beautifully crafted miniatures, which reflect every colour of a dazzling musical decade.” —Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

“The title alludes to the two suites from William Walton’s Façade in Constant Lambert’s virtuosic piano-duet transcription that end the sequence, but the other items afford interesting context. Music by Lambert, including his all-white-note Trois pièces nègres for piano duet and seven Li Po settings, lead to Lambert’s Façade treatment glorying in the bitonal iridescence with which familiar but quite dissimilar tunes are deftly combined.” —Paul Driver, The Sunday Times (May 10 On Record)

“Andrew West and Ronald Woodley clearly relish the opportunity to appreciate the humour of these wry pieces, and play with commitment and zest. …This is a fascinating combination of unusual Walton and intriguing Lambert pieces. Adventurous British music lovers should love this.” —Ian Lace, MusicWeb International