Geoffrey Norris
The Sunday Telegraph
March 2008

This fine disc is testimony to the musicality, maturity and insight that distinguish Jamie Walton's cello playing. The coupling is an unusual one, but the two concertos he performs here with the Philharmonia under Alexander Briger prove to be particularly well matched in their expressive scope. Whereas the Elgar concerto of 1919 looks back with nostalgia to a lost age of grandeur and to an old order shattered by the First World War, Myaskovsky's of 1944-5 muses with despondency on the depredations and apprehension triggered by the Second World War a quarter of a century later. Both works have an elegiac feel to them, the ruminative atmosphere of their opening bars being recalled in the closing pages. In interpreting these two works, Walton is not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, which makes the atmosphere all the more poignant in the slow, mellow unfolding of the Elgar's first movement and central adagio, and in the opening lento of the Myaskovsky. There is emotional force, but it is unforced. The first peak in the Elgar, for example, is achieved with naturalness and inevitability as the cello climbs its aspirational scale towards a top E. In the Myaskovsky, the cello, echoing the bassoon's opening phrase and the strings' aura of melancholy, weaves a brooding line as if relating a sad Russian epic. Walton applies his warmth of timbre and refined spectrum of colouring perceptively to both works, as does the orchestra. At the same time, his deftness in the Elgar's scherzo and in the passages of the Myaskovsky's finale gives the music a wonderful airborne quality. Orchestra and soloist are as one in conveying the subtle spirit of this music on a disc that has an ineluctable power to draw you into its expressive realms.