The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins gives invigorating and authoritative performances of William Walton’s masterful symphonies. The musicians balance stunning control with breathtaking energy and character.
Following the resounding success of Belshazzar’s Feast, Walton spent three years perfecting his dramatic first symphony. The immensely virtuosic work displays an astounding range of colours and emotional volatility, reflecting the turbulence of Walton’s private life. Despite its fraught gestation—the first performance in 1934 by the London Symphony Orchestra was missing the finale—this work met with an ecstatic critical reception and has remained popular ever since.
The second symphony, premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1960, is more concise and refined. Somewhat out of kilter with the austerity of its time, this masterpiece was slow to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor. Also included is the intimate orchestral work Siesta, from 1926.