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Track(s) taken from CDA67330

A Litany '2nd version'

First line:
Drop, drop, slow tears
author of text

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: January 2002
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2002
Total duration: 3 minutes 14 seconds

Other recordings available for download

St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor)
Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh (conductor)


'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)
Oldham-born Sir William Walton (1902–1983) was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford between 1912 and 1918. Dr Henry Ley (1887–1962) who had succeeded Harwood as Organist there in 1909 recognized his outstanding talents and introduced him to Sir Hugh Allen, Fellow of New College and Choragus to the University. The Dean at that time, The Very Reverend Dr Thomas Banks Strong, took an interest in young Walton’s welfare and managed to persuade the boy’s father to allow him to become an undergraduate at the University at the early age of sixteen. But Walton left in 1920 having repeatedly failed Responsions—a requirement of the BA degree. He was taught piano by Basil Allchin the Assistant Organist at Christ Church. Despite being surrounded by so many talented musicians and teachers, Walton was virtually self-taught—his teachers merely claiming that they gave him some advice. He later received similar advice from Ansermet and Busoni.

Although much of Walton’s musical success was in the world of secular music-making, he did not abandon church music and wrote a number of anthems and other liturgical works: The Twelve (1965), Missa Brevis (1966), Jubilate Deo (1972) and seven other shorter works, of which one is A Litany —a setting of the beautiful text by Phineas Fletcher (1582–1650). It is quite remarkable that this piece bears the date ‘Oxford 1917’ after the final bar, which means that the composer was only fifteen when he wrote it. All the more remarkable that the piece begins with a discord and that the music paints so dramatically the words ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’—the work of an iconoclast to be sure.

from notes by William McVicker © 1999

Other albums featuring this work

A Song of Farewell
Studio Master: SIGCD281Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The English Anthem, Vol. 7
CDA67087Last few CD copies remaining
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