William Walton - Viola Concerto
November 16, 2019
Chloé Thominet, a doctoral student of Helen Callus and winner in the Bienen School’s 2018-2019 Concerto/Aria Competition, performs the third movement of William Walton’s Viola Concert with the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. Victor Yampolsky conducts.
III. Allegro moderato
The English composer William Walton was just 26 years old when, in 1928, he composed the viola concerto — but for many of his admirers, it is the crown jewel of his output. The work’s premiere has a colorful back-story. The conductor Sir Thomas Beecham had identified Walton as a rising star, and hoped to tempt Lionel Tertis to join him in giving the premiere of the concerto. Tertis — one of the most famous musicians in Britain at the time — reviewed the score, declared the work “too modern,” and unceremoniously mailed it back to Walton! The premiere performance was given instead by the German composer and violist Paul Hindemith — an artist who did not shy away from the modern. (Tertis would eventually come to regret his error; he embraced the concerto and performed it many times.) Walton’s 1961 revision of the concerto, which reduced the woodwind forces and added a harp, is now the standard version of the work.