WALTON – The Bear now at £7.50*

Sir William Walton (1902 –  1983) – The Bear (An extravaganza in One Act)

Della Jones – mezzo-soprano
Alan Opie – baritone
John Shirley-Quirk – bass
Northern Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

Chandos Records CHAN10947X @ £7.50*

Sir William Walton wrote two operas, the second “The Bear” far more readily acclaimed than the first, and more often performed. Its premiere took place in Aldeburgh in June 1967 as part of the twentieth Aldeburgh Festival, and followed the disastrous reception of Walton’s first opera, Troilus and Cressida, a piece seen as too traditional for the taste of those austere postwar times.

So second time round Walton was taking no chances: everything in The Bear is on a modest scale: a chamber opera in one act, for three singers only, no chorus, and the orchestra is chamber sized, with a small number of strings (originally solo players).

Not only did this specific recording bring the piece to fame but it also proved a revelatory disc for the soloists, Della Jones, Alan Opie, and John Shirley-Quirk, who would go on to become multi-award winning soloists and whose achievements in British music would become increasingly successful.

Richly endowed with musical qualities, Richard Hickox was a great champion of neglected music in general, and of British music in particular. His sudden death in November 2008 robbed the world of a most vital, industrious, and energising musician, whose discographical legacy remains a treasure trove of the record catalogue. With the Richard Hickox Legacy we wish to express our gratitude to and appreciation of this great musical artist.

Chandos Records CHAN10947X @ £7.50*

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