Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson – Ludwig van Beethoven : String Quartet – William Walton : Sonata for Strings (2005) DSF DSD64

Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson – Ludwig van Beethoven : String Quartet – William Walton : Sonata for Strings (2005)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 54:30 minutes | 2,15 GB | Genre: Classical
Source: ISO SACD | © Channel Classics Records B.V. | Front Cover, Booklet

Why Beethoven and Walton? Sir William Walton’s Sonata for Strings is a piece that the Amsterdam Sinfonietta has performed with great success both at home and abroad. For this reason we felt that a recording of this work was an obvious choice. It is a powerful composition which gives a string orchestra the opportunity to display all of its discipline, virtuosity, and tone-color. We chose Beethoven’s string quartet op. 135 as a companion piece for this recording because of our admiration for the greatness of this final string quartet. The only other recording of this work to date is the Vienna Philharmonic’s legendary recording of op. 135 in an arrangement for string orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. In this earlier recording, the work is performed with a very large group of strings, and Beethoven’s composition is realized on a symphonic scale. One important characteristic of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta is that the orchestra is conceived in terms of a string quintet, i.e. a small- scale setting. The orchestra has deliberately remained small in size for the exact purpose of preserving the intimate character of works such as those by Walton or Beethoven. In this way we are able to perform with a maximum of flexibility and articulation. During the recording sessions, attention was devoted not only to the dynamic levels in the score but an effort was also made to give different colors to the various motives. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta strives for the greatest possible expression in this way. Our choice for the combination of these two works is due more to the differences in their musical language than to their similarities…..

The coupling of Walton and Beethoven isn’t as odd as you might at first think. Beethoven’s late quartet style is so timeless and modern sounding that it offers all kinds of valid perspectives on much later music, while Walton’s Sonata for Strings, an arrangement of his earlier string quartet, isn’t so advanced harmonically that the pairing creates an uncomfortable mix of styles. Interestingly, both works share the same form (quick, scherzo, lento, quick) which makes the comparison even more apt. Besides, when the playing is this good and the music this attractive, who cares?
The rhythmic precision of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta in the second and fourth movements of the Walton is simply astounding, and it doesn’t hurt in the Vivace of the Beethoven either. Unlike, say, Bernstein’s recording of Op. 135 with the Vienna Philharmonic strings, this group uses smaller forces to try (as the notes say) to retain some of the intimacy of the chamber original. And when the playing features such impeccable intonation and corporate virtuosity, such unforced lyricism in the two slow movements, that’s just what they achieve. Toss in state-of-the-art sonics, both in stereo and fabulously realistic 5.0 multichannel sound, and the result is irresistible. –David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135 (1826)
1 Allegretto 6.48
2 Vivace 3.24
3 Lento assai, cantabile e tranquillo 9.21
4 Grave, ma non troppo tratto – allegro 7.54

Sir William Walton (1902-1983)
Sonata for Strings (transcription by Walton and M.Arnold of String Quartet in A minor) (1971/73)
5 Allegro 8.33
6 Presto 4.08
7 Lento 9.02
8 Allegro molto 4.39

Amsterdam Sinfonietta
Candida Thompson, leader

Recorded: Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden, The Netherlands, March/May 2005


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