SOMM Recordings’ Sir William Walton – A Centenary Celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the first performance of Edith Sitwell’s era-defining “entertainment” Façade, coupled with its composer’s thrilling score for Laurence Olivier’s iconic 1944 film version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, on the 600th anniversary of the medieval warrior-king’s death.
Baritone and SOMM artist Roderick Williams pairs with mezzo-soprano Tamsin Dalley for a joyful partnership in Façade, while star of television’s Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Inspector Morse and Lewis, Kevin Whately is the bracing Narrator for Henry V.
The Stratford-based Orchestra of The Swan is conducted by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Head of Music, Bruce O’Neil.
First performed in private for a select audience of London’s glitterati in January 1922, Walton adorned Sitwell’s “experiments in sound” Façade with music of originality and vitality to match the absurdist-leaning poetry.
Within a generation, the exhilarating distractions of the Jazz Era had given way to the bleak horror of the Second World War. With Britain at its lowest ebb, Laurence Olivier’s morale-boosting 1944 film version of Henry V was enhanced by one of Walton’s finest, most colourful, dramatic and emotion-laden scores. It is thrillingly realised here in Edward Watson’s chamber version for 11 players. Arranging the work for this relatively small ensemble, Watson creates a remarkable sound brimming with cinematic impact that has been much admired for its blending of the concert platform and theatrical stage.
SOMM’s previous Walton releases include his widely admired Symphony No.1 and Belshazzar’s Feast with Adrian Boult conducting the LPO (SOMMCD 094), and the pairing of Walton with his lifelong friend Constant Lambert, Façades (SOMMCD 0614), hailed by The Telegraph as “an album that brings the Roaring Twenties to life”, and MusicWeb International as “an absolute gem of a disc in every regard”.
On This Recording
- I. Hornpipe (sailors come to the drum)
- II. En Famille (In the early springtime, after their tea)
- III. Mariner Man (What are you staring at, mariner man?)
- IV. Long Steel Grass (The white soldiers pass)
- V. Through Gilded Trellises (on the heat)
- VI. Tango-Pasodoblé (When Don Pasquito arrived at the seaside)
- VII. Lullaby for Jumbo (Jumbo asleep!)
- VIII. Black Mrs. Behemoth (In a room of the palace)
- IX. Tarantella (Where the satyrs are chattering)
- X. The Man from a Far Countree (Rose and Alice)
- XI. By the Lake (Across the flat and the pastel snow)
- XII. Country Dance (That hobnailed goblin, the bob-tailed Hob)
- XIII. Polka (Tra la la la la la la la la!)
- XIV. Four in the Morning (Cried the navy-blue ghost)
- XV. Something lies beyond the scene
- XVI. Valse (Daisy and Lily)
- XVII. Yodelling Song (Be bear velvet cream)
- XVIII. Scotch Rhapsody (Do not take a bath in Jordan, Gordon)
- XIX. Popular Song (Lily O'Grady, Silly and shady)
- XX. Fox-Trot: 'Old Sir Faulk'
- XXI. Sir Beelzebub (When Sir Beelzebub)
- Part I: Prologue. Fanrare - No. 1 March. Chorus: "O for a Muse of fire"
- Part I: No. 2 - Slower. Chorus: "Suppose within the girdle"
- Part I: No. 3 - Brightly
- Part I: No. 4 - Poco Meno - Vivo (March)
- Part I: Interlude at the Boar's Head - No. 5 - Allegretto giocoso (scherzando) - Pistol: "Falstaff; he is sick"
- Part I: Falstaff Rejection. No. 6 - Falstaff: "God save thy grace, King hal!" Henry V: "I know thee not old man" Pistol: "Well, Sir John is gone"
- Part I: "Touch her soft lips and art" - No. 7 Slow, tenderly - Fanfare. Chorus: "Suppose that you have seen"
- Part II: Harfleur. No. 1 - Moderato, Harfleur. Henry V. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends". Harfleur (continued). No. 2 - Moderato - poco stringendo - allegro frenetico. Henry V: "The nimble gunner".
- Part II: The Night Watch. No. 3 - Lento tenebroso. Chorus: "Now entertain conjecture of a time…" Henry V: "Thiw day is call'd the feast of Crispian". Fanfare. Henry V: "Now soldiers march away".
- Part II: Agincourt. No. 4 - Più mosso - poco a poco più mosso - Con anima - Poco pesante - Rit. Molrto - a tempo allegro con fuoco - Molto rit. Lento misterioso. Henry V: "The day is ours".
- Part III: Interlude at the French Court No. 1 Gaily. Duke of Burgundy: "My duty to you both, on equal love".
- Part III: No. 2 Bailero - Lento tranquillo. Duke of Burgundy: "Alas, she hath from France". Henry V: "If, Duke of Burgundy, you would the peace".
- Part III: No. 3 Andante Pastorale. Henry V: "You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate".
- Part III: No. 4 Maestoso festoso - Vivo (March)
- Part III: Epilogue. No. 5 Slower. Chorus: "Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen".
- Part III: No. 6 Brightly
Façade — A Centenary Celebration
An Entertainment by Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)
Music from Henry V — Text by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“baritone Roderick Williams and mezzo Tamsin Dalley are terrific, offering detailed and entertaining interpretations with pinpoint diction and plenty of good humour. Dalley is wonderful at spinning the long lines of the Spanish-inflected Long Steel Grass, her accent suitably cut-glass when she wants it to be but never mannered. The tongue twisters of Tango-Pasodoblé hold no terrors for her, with Williams intruding with cheeky, Spanish accented interjections. Together they extract the Gothic horror from Black Mrs. Behemoth and squeeze every ounce of comedy out of the charming Country Dance. Bruce O’Neil conducting an ensemble from Orchestra of the Swan is thoroughly idiomatic. The other work here is a version of Walton’s stirring music for Olivier’s wartime film of Shakespeare’s Henry V. … Again, the nimble-footed playing and pacing is excellent with the experienced actor Kevin Whately making a fine narrator. … Somm is to be complimented on a highly attractive hour or so in the company of the genius that was William Walton.” —Clive Paget, Limelight (Editor’s Choice)