Hyperion Records

The Twelve
First line:
Without arms or charm of culture
composer
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

Recordings
'The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey' (CDA67770)
The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey
'Walton: Coronation Te Deum & other choral works' (CDA67330)
Walton: Coronation Te Deum & other choral works
Details
Track 4 on CDA67330 [11'32]

The Twelve
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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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67330 track 4
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-02-33004
Duration
11'32
Recording date
4 January 2002
Recording venue
Hereford Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Walton: Coronation Te Deum & other choral works (CDA67330)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: June 2002
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