Hyperion Records

1926; first performed at the Aeolian Hall on 24 November 1926, Guy Warrack (or Walton) conducting; dedicated to Stephen Tennant

'Walton: Symphonies' (CDA67794)
Walton: Symphonies
Track 5 on CDA67794 [5'21]

A characteristic of Walton’s music is the blend of romanticism and bitterness. The First Symphony is the example par excellence of this trait but one can detect it in smaller works. Another characteristic is the love of Italy which persisted from his first visit in 1920. One cannot always be sure whether the melancholy is emotional or the effect of Italian sunshine. These remarks apply to the five-minute orchestral piece Siesta, composed in 1926 for the chamber orchestral concerts given in London at the Aeolian Hall under the direction of Guy Warrack and first performed there on 24 November that year. The Times critic and Warrack both said it was conducted by Walton, but the composer maintained it was Warrack who conducted the premiere.

An oboe plays an Italian street song evocative of the Siena night scene which Walton saw and described after he and his publisher, Hubert Foss, escaped from a reception: ‘Up one little street, we stopped on hearing music. We were at the top of the steps to a lower level and at the bottom was a tiny open space lit by one lamp. Four people were playing tangos on mandolins and whistling the tune with a flexatone to help, and one or two couples were dancing. It was such a beautiful sight, so simple and romantic and peasant-like and such a change from the idiotic reception.’ That scene is captured by the delicate orchestration. Some years later, in 1961, Walton heard a recording and admitted he had forgotten the work—‘charming’ was his verdict. He had dedicated it to his friend Stephen Tennant, the ‘original’ of Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

from notes by Michael Kennedy © 2011

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67794 track 5
Recording date
21 November 2010
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Walton: Symphonies (CDA67794)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: July 2011
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