Mention Walton's Violin Concerto and the name Jascha Heifetz springs immediately to mind. Not without some justification, I have to say, especially considering that Heifetz commissioned the work and recorded it twice (in 1941 and 1950). But in 1959 the great French violinist Zino Francescatti stepped in front of the microphones for a performance that, in terms of warmth and commitment, says beautiful things about the Concerto that you won't hear from any other interpreter. Listen, for example, to the unforgettable way he embellishes the return of the first movement's aching principal theme (8'05" into track 1) or his rich-toned playing of the finale's gorgeous second subject (0'53" into track 3), always deeply expressive yet tempered by a crucial touch of restraint. The "Presto Capriccioso Alla Napolitana" second movement has real Latin fire, and the effect is significantly compounded by some marvellous playing by the Philadelphia Orchestra under another master Waltonian, Eugene Ormandy.
Walton's dazzlingly orchestrated Johannesburg Festival Overture is given an energetic outing by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Andre Kostelanetz, dedicatee of the CD's last item, a virtuoso Capriccio Burlesco. Add Kostelanetz's brightly lit account of the First Facade Suite (five items, though not including the indelible "Popular Song") and you have a colourful transatlantic tribute to a British musical master.
With repertoire that ranges from "For he's a jolly good fellow" (Variations sur Marlborough) to the wistful strains of Glazunov's Saxophone Quartet, this admirably refurbished recital offers a generous sampling of a musician who Clarinet Classics describe as "the greatest name in classical saxophone". …