Viola Concerto (Walton)

Viola Concerto (Walton)

The Viola Concerto by William Walton was written in 1929 for the famous violist Lionel Tertis. The concerto was modelled on Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto, which Walton admired. Tertis initially shunned the work and the premiere was done by Paul Hindemith, who later championed the work. Tertis later took the work up himself. The concerto carries the dedication "To Christabel" (Christabel McLaren, Lady Aberconway).

The work follows the standard three-movement format for a concerto:

# Andante comodo
# Vivo, con molto preciso
# Allegro moderato

The work is generally considered one of the more difficult in the repertoire, as the intonation and notes tend to be awkward for even the most accomplished violist. Numerous recordings have been made of the piece, by such violists as Yuri Bashmet, Nobuko Imai, Jonathan L. Murray, Lawrence Power, Paul Neubauer, and William Primrose. Many soloists better known for their violin playing have also recorded the concerto, including Nigel Kennedy, Maxim Vengerov, and Yehudi Menuhin.

Orchestration Revision

The orchestration of the concerto was revised in 1961 by Walton, with the premiere of the revised version being performed by John Coulling accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Malcolm Sargent on 18 January 1962. [ [ Walton: Concerto for Viola and Orchestra] ]

The revised orchestration features 2 flutes (second doubling piccolo), oboe, cor anglais, 2 clarinets (second doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, harp and strings, compared to the original of 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani and strings.

Walton did not withdraw the earlier version, but did express a preference for the revised orchestration. Consequently, it is this version that is typically performed. [ [ Walton Viola Concerto programme notes] ]


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