Walton: Coronation Te Deum (CD Review - HMV Choice, 2002)

When it came to pomp and circumstance, Oldham's William Walton was a kind of Elgar with attitude, perfectly capable of conjuring the grand, ceremonial gestures needed on state occasions, but with a sharper edge, and the creeping cynicism of a later generation. Thus the Coronation Te Deum (1953) which gives this disc its title virtually approaches parody in places, so brazen are the juxtapositions of loud and softer music, so unbridled the outbursts of brass instruments in the accompaniment. Missa Brevis is a much more subtle and harmonically interesting work, with some highly effective writing for the soloists. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, written for Walter Hussey of Chichester Cathedral (“the queer dean”, as Walton indelicately termed him), also has excellent solo writing, though Walton's typical impatience with the ecclesiastical idiom makes for a fairly abrupt conclusion (“How I dislike the words”, he wrote). A smattering of shorter pieces round out this excellently performed choral portrait, including the intriguingly titled “King Herod and the Cock”. 

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