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|St Paul's Cathedral Choir, Andrew Carwood (conductor), Simon Johnson (organ)|
Sir William Walton (1902–1983) hailed from Oldham in Lancashire and was both a chorister and an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, before being taken under the wing of the literary Sitwell family. From the mid-1950s he made his permanent home on the Italian island of Ischia. He is unusual in that he did not teach at a conservatoire nor had he any pupils: he wrote no essays nor gave any talks about music. His compositions are wide-ranging, from the witty Façade to the monumental Symphony No 1 and the popular Belshazzar’s Feast.
Walton’s dramatic Te Deum was written for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He had in fact been working on a Te Deum setting for the First Night of the Proms in 1944 but had become side-tracked by the incidental music for Henry V. Walton seemed pleased with his work:
I’ve got cracking on the Te Deum. You will like it, I think, and I hope he will too. Lots of counter-tenors and little boys Holy-holying, not to mention all the Queen’s Trumpeters and sidedrum (Letter William Walton to Christopher Hassall, 28 November 1952).
It is a magnificent work which not only captures the pomp and power of the ceremony but also has a film-like, rather cosmic quality. Full of antiphonal effects and punctuated by brass writing, it makes use of some ideas from sonata form with both a first and second subject (‘We praise thee, O God’ and ‘To thee Cherubin and Seraphin’) and a recapitulation.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2014
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