WALTON conducts Walton: Belshazzar's Feast (1943) - PACO017

This album is included in the following sets:

WALTON conducts Walton: Belshazzar's Feast (1943) - PACO017

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Overview

WALTON Belshazzar's Feast

Recorded 1943
Duration 33:31

Dennis Noble, baritone
Huddersfield Choral Society & Brass Bands
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by William Walton

This set contains the following albums:

Walton conducts his own Belshazzar's Feast

"Superbly taken, with Walton's conducting even more electric and impulsive than in his later stereo version, and with Dennis Noble unsurpassed as the baritone soloist. The 'writing on the wall' sequence has never sounded creepier"
- Gramophone Good CD, DVD and Download Guide, 2007


This premiere recording of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, with the composer conducting, is remarkable in many respects. It owes its existence to a degree to the work of the British Council, who had commissioned a number of recordings with which to promote British culture during and after the Second World War (they began this series in 1942 with a recording of Moeran's Symphony in G minor).

Thus it was that in early 1943 the legendary producer Walter Legge managed to assemble the full forces required to record the work - full orchestra, chorus, two brass bands, organ and soloist - and with Walton at the baton the recording can only be described as definitive. It's also interesting to note that Walton later revised the work considerably - first in 1948 and then, to a lesser extent, in 1959 (the year that Walton conducted his second, and first stereo, recording).

The recording was well-received - this is the review in The Record Guide of 1951 (which gave it a star):

"The text of this oratorio was selected and arranged from the Book of Isaiah by Sir Osbert Sitwell. There is some beautiful and quiet choral writing near the opening of the work, but the rhythmic ferocity of the finale recalls the first movement of the [first] Symphony. The piece is a tour de force, and when adequately performed (as in this set) it is irresistibly exciting. Considering the high dynamics, and the weight of the combined orchestra and chorus, the recording of this strenuous work is a considerable engineering feat."

Andrew Rose


  • WALTON Belshazzar's Feast
    Recorded 3rd & 10th January, 1943 at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

    Issued as HMV C.3330-4, Matrix numbers 2ER 661-670

    Takes: 3, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 1

    Natural Sound remastering by Andrew Rose, March 2007

    Duration 33:31


Dennis Noble, baritone
Huddersfield Choral Society & Brass Bands
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by William Walton