"This recording is original in that it makes the cello sing through two post romantic composers that seem opposed one to another.... The Philharmonia’s accompaniment is impeccable, leaving the cello to dominate but without ever effacing itself too much, capable of the most subtle (extreme) nuances."
Chronique Musicale (France) - April 2008
"... class and distinction characterize this musician whose name should surely be remembered."
"This is a warm, sympathetic recording, that never wallows, that remains strongly directional whilst never stinting the many lyrical episodes. The wind solos are excellent and once again Briger distinguishes himself, setting a firm architectural goal..."
MuiscWebInternational - April 2008
"One of the finest recordings of the Elgar. Jamie Walton has a formidable technique; his playing in the scherzo and the finale is beyond compare; and he captures the autumnal melancholy without loss of vitality. His pianissimos in the finale coda are a wonder. He has like-minded collaborators in the Philharmonia and Alexander Briger, who also support him in Myaskovsky’s sombre concerto of 1945." ****
The Telegraph Magazine
"Barbirolli would have surely approved of my other favourite: Elgar and Miaskovsky: Cello concertos (Signum), featuring young British cellist Jamie Walton with the Philharmonia under Alexander Briger. Barbirolli perhaps understood Elgar’s concerto better than any other musician. He was in the London Symphony Orchestra’s cello section for the disastrous premiere. But a little later, as only the third soloist to take up the piece, he gave the first well received performance of a work that has now become Elgar’s favourite offering.
It was a process Barbirolli helped along with two exceptional recordings as a conductor: the one everyone knows with Jackie de Pre, and the connoisseur’s choice, made a decade earlier with the French cellist Andre Navarra. In the later one Barbirolli allowed Du Pre her indulgences, but in the Navarra his pacing is exceptional. Walton and Briger are within a few seconds of his timings in all four movements, much to the music’s advantage, especially in the first movement which is taken more quickly than has now become the norm. Elgar, too, would surely have admired Walton for his restraint and nobility of tone, particularly in the two adagio passages.
This is an emotional work, but Elgar faced the world with a stiff upper lip, as Walton’s performance recognises, and this very reticence makes the music’s deeply ingrained sadness even more affecting. The coupling is Myaskovsky’s 1945 cello concerto, an eloquent and melodious piece - none the worse for being old-fashioned - which also benefits from a brisker than unusual performance."
The Mail on Sunday - 23 March 2008
"This fine disc is testimony to the musicality, maturity and insight that distinguish Jamie Walton’ 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."
The Sunday Telegraph 8 March 2008
"How do you like the Elgar Cello Concerto performed? Jacqueline du Pré’s famous recording of 1965 accustomed listeners to a febrile, intensely personal interpretation, bordering on the neurotic. The interpretation worked for du Pré, and it stirred many hearts at the time. But 40 years have passed, and you won’t find the feverish approach in the fingers of the young British cellist Jamie Walton.
After the Royal Northern College of Music, he studied like du Pré with the great British teacher William Pleeth, though he very much follows his own star. His expression is clean and uncluttered, his musicianship unusually selfless. Only the music’s will matters. That plus his wonderful cello, the 1712 Guarneri costing £890,000, which he finally secured last year.
In his latest concerto recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra, under the Australian-born conductor Alexander Briger, Walton maintains a notably lower temperature than the legendary du Pré. Yet that doesn’t mean he’s not feeling the music. The cello quakes with vibrato, but sensibly avoids floods of tears. The pensive beauty of his slow movement is very moving; under his noble carriage, you still sense Elgar’s utter despair at the horrific slaughter of the First World War (concluded just a few months before he began composing).
The recording brings a few clouds of its own, dulling the lustrous tones that you normally expect with the Philharmonia. The sound needs more breathing space. Even so, this CD still stands out in a crowded field. Along with Walton’s caring sobriety, there’s the imaginative coupling.
This is Myaskovsky’s cello concerto of 1945, written in the last months of the century’s next world conflagration. If Elgar’s brand of yearning feels indubitably English, Myaskovsky’s music cries "Made in Russia". For all the gulf in the two concertos’ musical styles, they share a similar heartbeat: both composers were wringing their hands over death, destruction and innocence lost. Since Myaskovsky finds more peace than Elgar, we end the disc with some gentle uplift.
The same national mix is to be repeated in the cellist’s next CD, matching Britten and Shostakovich." ****
The Times - February 2008
"Walton’s performance of the Elgar would be worth recommending on its own: this young British cellist is effortlessly accurate and, more important, emotionally engaged and engaging, especially in the Adagio. But there are plenty of good versions of the Elgar available; there are hardly any of Myaskovsky’s equally lyrical and melancholic concerto, which makes an inspired coupling. Despite living in such disparate lands and situations, these two composers shared a similar spiritual-musical world. Walton, with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Alexander Briger, deserves credit for making the point so sympathetically." *****
The Financial Times - February 2008
"A freshness of approach and of sound makes Jamie Walton’s reading of Elgar’s Cello Concerto an appealing proposition, despite the crowded market. He sees this work not simply as an orgy of expressive indulgence; instead, he measures carefully its introspection. His approach is not distant, however, but typically balanced and unselfish. Under Briger’s well-paced direction, the Philharmonia is perfectly acceptable, though its playing can lack precision. The less often recorded two-movement C minor Cello Concerto of Nikolay Myaskovsky – lyrical, nostalgic, regretful, it was composed in 1944 by this quiet but not compliant man of Soviet music – completes the disc."
The Sunday Times - 27 January 2008
Walton has received glowing accolades and his performances have been hailed by the press; ‘Flawless intonation and an expressive core, communicating its spirit right to the back seats of the hall’.
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