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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67330
Recording details: January 2002
Hereford Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2002
Total duration: 11 minutes 32 seconds

'An outstanding collection' (Gramophone)

'What a splendid work it is, especially when sung with the verve brought to it by Stephen Layton’s choir Polyphony' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'Performances are vibrant and energetic, and attack the scrunchy harmonies with complete accuracy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'a wonderfully refreshing interpretation' (The Observer)

'This sterling collection should win Walton’s choral music many new fans' (American Record Guide)

'Every generation delivers an outstanding talent with the vision and commitment necessary to produce refreshingly individual, totally convincing interpretations. Stephen Layton's readings of Walton's choral music on this tremendous disc are without equal, supported by the high-octane, stylish singing of Polyphony and one of the finest recorded sounds I've heard for years. Layton sets a stately speed for the Coronation Te Deum, although the crisp brass fanfares of the Wallace Collection and articulate work from the choir convey a rare energy and exuberance. Buy it!’ (Classic FM Magazine)

'From fanfare to finale this is a very fine and fitting centenary compilation indeed' (Organists' Review)

'For Waltonians, this is a compulsory purchase' (HMV Choice)

'A great collection and an absolute winner' (Cathedral Music)

'On trouve chez Layton, avec des chœurs d’une beauté et d’une précision étonnantes, un surcroît de chaleur et d’investissement, ce qui place ce disque en tête de la discographie' (Répertoire, France)

The Twelve
First line:
Without arms or charm of culture
commissioned by Cuthbert Simpson, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and first performed there on 16 May 1965 under the direction of Sydney Watson; orchestrated by Walton for the 900th celebrations of Westminster Abbey in January 1966
author of text
commissioned by Cuthbert Simpson, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, at the same time as Walton's music; the text as set differs in several places from the version of the poem subsequently published

The Twelve  [11'32] English

Other recordings available for download
Julian Empett (bass), Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor), Raphael Taylor-Davies (treble), William Rowland (treble), Ben Turner (countertenor), Julian Stocker (tenor), Robert Quinney (organ)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
William Walton’s The Twelve is one of the relatively few works intended for liturgical use for which both music and text were commissioned together. In this case, the idea arose in 1964 when the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Cuthbert Simpson, invited two of the college’s most celebrated alumni to collaborate on a new anthem. The substantial, eleven-minute work that resulted was first performed in Christ Church Cathedral in May 1965 under the direction of Sydney Watson. The composer had earlier expressed the opinion that W H Auden’s text was ‘obscure and difficult to set’, but in truth Walton frequently had similar problems with texts and often found that inspiration came slowly. Happily in this case he successfully overcame the difficulties, producing a work of exceptional musical and emotional scope and variety that seems to raise its sights rather beyond the world of the church anthem and towards the cantata. Walton also surely does justice to what is generally thought to be a highly imaginative and resourceful poetic text. Among the highpoints are the beautiful central duet (‘O Lord, my God, Though I forsake Thee Forsake me not’), and the exuberant fugal finale (‘Twelve as the winds and the months’). The striking opening passage for solo baritone is typical of Walton’s imaginative writing for solo voices throughout. It also features a notably virtuosic organ part. The composer subsequently orchestrated the anthem for use in the 900th anniversary celebrations of Westminster Abbey in January 1966.

from notes by James O'Donnell © 2010

Other albums featuring this work
'The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey' (CDA67770)
The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey

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