ALEXANDER WALKER | CONDUCTOR

Brian: Symphonies Nos. 6, 28, 29 and 31 / Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos

 

 "Walker is a superb Brian conductor. He understands the very “British” nature and quality of this music and, moreover, phrases everything with the utmost care and an exquisite sense of legato without sacrificing clarity. Along with his wonderful sense of legato one hears very fine textural clarity without sounding overly fussy.

…a very fine disc and thanks to the two world premiere recordings, a valuable one for Brian fanciers. The New Russian State Symphony plays this British music very well, too!"

Lynn René Bayley / Fanfare, September 2015

"One thing this recording does is to reveal the strength and power of Brian’s orchestral imagination: The climaxes are absolutely tremendous. The excellent sound expands to accommodate these peaks, and again Walker is expert at controlling the rise and fall of the musical progress. The new Naxos disc is a must for Brian aficionados."

Philip Scott / Fanfare, September 2015

"The playing is confident—even swaggering. The dark Russian color makes the performance seem more integrated. In all these works, [Walker’s] direction makes them sound fascinating and, I suspect, as coherent as anyone ever will".

Don O'Connor / American Record Guide, September 2015

"In Alexander Walker’s hands the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra make a well argued case for the symphony [No. 28]. It stands revealed as a remarkable creation that is full of drama with a darkly beautiful edge.

The overriding summation of Brian’s symphonies is that his feel for melody, harmony and downright excellent tunes coupled with a total mastery of orchestration makes the neglect he experienced all the more difficult to comprehend. It really is time that the listening public took more notice of him as well as seeing his works featured more widely at the Proms and in other concert programmes. I hope this CD helps that process along for both orchestra and conductor do Brian proud." 

Steve Arloff / MusicWeb International, July 2015

"Alexander Walker’s interpretations…stand up well against their older rivals and in the Sinfonia tragica he produces a marvellously nuanced, rather Russian-sounding performance, with some occasionally Shostakovichian brass. The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra do the music proud. The sound quality is very good, too, as it needs to be for Brian’s complex, multi-layered invention. Recommended." 

Guy Rickards / Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

"The partnership between conductor Alexander Walker and the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra is a fruitful one.  My expectations of high performance quality were fully met by these gripping accounts. Walker acheives extraordinary intense playing that illuminates this music to its best advantage.  There's excellent sound quality with the disc being especially well-balanced and with good clarity.  This Naxos release is a prime recommendation, de rigeur for all Brian admirers and lovers of British music alike". 

Michael Cookson / Music Webb International, May 2015

"The four symphonies programmed on the current release give you a listening experience both fascinating and rewarding. The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra under Walker furnishes us versions that sparkle with sonic vitality. There is enthusiasm to be heard and a full commitment to the stylistic particularities. …we are well served by these recordings and get the full impact of Havergal Brian and his tremendous burst of energy in the last decades of his life." 

Grego Appelgate Edwards / Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2015

"…the performances under Alexander Walker sound remarkably assured given the unfamiliarity of the material, and they are very well recorded." 

David Hurwitz / ClassicsToday.com, May 2015

"Walker and his fine musicians are alert to one of the main features of Brian’s music, its abrupt mood changes. Walker gets good engineering, and the Naxos recording sounds rich and robust yet detailed… " 

Rad Bennett / Rad's Reference Reviews, May 2015

"The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra makes an impressive [account] here under conductor Alexander Walker. He gets committed, dynamic performances from the NRSSO, whose members dispatch the many demanding solos in these kaleidoscopic works with great aplomb.  The recordings…are excellent. They project a robust soundstage in an ideally resonant acoustic. Brian’s scoring for large orchestras with extensive percussion sections make for a most impressive sonic image." 

Bob McQuiston / Classical Lost and Found, April 2015

"This is an impressive and surprisingly successful record of some deeply impressive and wholly original music. One’s surprise is the quality and genuinely committed playing of the Moscow orchestra, which deliver performances of notable distinction, of music that is by no means easy to grasp and which poses problems to any ensemble that undertakes it. The undoubted success of this release has to be laid at the feet of Alexander Walker, who clearly has the grasp of this remarkably condensed and unique series of works." 

Waghalter: Orchestral Music/ Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos

 

"Walker’s interpretation of the music is sturdy, with good rhythmic pulse. The New Russia Orchestra plays with healthy vigor and largeness of gesture… " 

 

Don O'Connor / American Record Guide, November 2015

"It's great fun, and conducted with both flair and love by Alexander Walker, who is responsible for the work's (New World Suite) reconstruction. A very enjpyable release." 

David Hurwitz / ClassicsToday.com, July 2015

"Alexander Walker and the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra provide very fine performances and are nicely recorded. " 

Bruce Reader / The Classical Reviewer, June 2015

"Their superb renditions of these selections once again prove Waghalter to be a significant romantic discovery.  The instrumental timbre is characterized by brilliant highs, a pleasing midrange and clean bass." 

Bob McQuiston / Classical Lost and Found, May 2015

Brian: Symphonies 22-24, English Suite no. 1/ Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos

 

"Well, after hearing this remarkable disc by Walker and the New Russian State Symphony, I’ve revised my opinion. It wasn’t the message that was flawed in those earlier recordings but the messengers. Possibly, the musicians (and conductors) of that earlier time weren’t used to Brian’s peculiar mode of expression and aesthetic. Walker simply tears into these scores with the conviction of a True Disciple. Could some of the emotional output also be coming from the Russian musicians? Yes, of course, but again, the conductor sets the tone and Walker knows what he is about here. This is, quite simply, a remarkable disc. Highly recommended." 

Lynn René Bayley / Fanfare Magazine, June 2014

“The performances here are very good. The New Russian State Symphony Orchestra sounds remarkably confident in Brian’s idiosyncratic sound world. The brass play very well, and the ensemble projects what have to be some very ungrateful string parts with astonishing conviction. Much of the credit must belong to conductor Alexander Walker, who keeps the music moving smartly along, and relishes the opportunities it offers for lyrical expression as well as instrumental color. Certainly this is one of the best issues in Naxos’ ongoing Brian cycle, especially as the sonics are also very tactile and vivid. Fans of the composer will rejoice.” 

David Hurwitz / Classics Today, June 2014

“Turbulent, untidy, unclassifiable yet gripping, Brian’s 32 symphonies, mostly written when he was over 70, are still rare beasts on record or in the concert hall. Three cheers, then, to (of all people) the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Walker for supplying feisty performances of the English maverick’s Symphonies 22-24 — a dark, dissonant triptych from the mid-1960s. For light relief there’s also Brian’s English Suite No 1, composed 50 years earlier and full of whimsical quotations.” 

Richard Morrison / The Times, June 2014

The Nutcracker / Norwegian National Opera

"The conductor Alexander Walker demonstrated complete command over both stage and orchestra" 

Fredik Rutter / Verdens Gang, Oslo, December 2012

English Chamber Orchestra / Cadogan Hall

"A light and fleet account of the opening movement, demonstrated the orchestra’s skill with Mendelssohn's transparent orchestral textures, bringing a vein of melancholy into the second movement whilst maintaining a delightful clarity. This second movement was clearly no funeral procession, but something far more subtle. Walker and his players brought out the echoes of Mendelssohn's Midsummer Nights Dream in the third movement, before launching into a tarantella which impressed with its precision and control."

Robert Hugill / Planet Hugill, November 2012

Ignatz Waghalter: Violin Works / Irmina Trynkos / RPO / Naxos

"...The outstanding support she (Irmina Trynkos) receives from the Royal Philharmonic orchestra under conductor Alexander Walker makes the case for the concerto and rhapsody even stronger." 

Classical Lost and Found, October 2012

Julian Grant: Prophet and Loss / Oundle International Festival

 

"... Alexander Walker's conducting captured the drama inherent in Grant's score while also emphasizing its lyricism." 

Opera, September 2011

Le Postillon du Lonjumeau / Opera de Bauge

 

"... The orchestra, led with spirit by the young Alexander Walker, ensured the ensemble tremendous pacing.  He led a cast that clearly gripped the public, who were enthusiastic and clearly excited." 

Forumopera, September 2011

The Cunning Little Vixen / Oundle International Festival

"Walker's players enchanted with a cavalcade of controlled, astute brass, refined woodwind and alluring low strings, all beautifully articulated."

Opera, September 2009

Verbum Nobile / Polish Cultural Institute, London

"Alexander Walker accompanied his singers expertly." 

Colin Clarke / Seen and Heard, November 2006

A Life for the Tsar / Chelsea Opera Group / Queen Elizabeth Hall

"... under Alexander Walker's dynamic leadership both chorus and orchestra gave a tremendous performance of this neglected opera." 

Robert Hugill / Music and Vision, December 2004

Russian Chamber Orchestra of London / Festival, St. Petersburg Revelations

"... very well projected, a compelling performance from this talented conductor." 

Musical Opinion, December 2001

"Alexander Walker welded the ensemble with tremendous energy and immediacy...Walker has a strong affinity for the Russian style, which came across in the intensity and warmth of this fully engaging performance." 

Music and Vision, December 2001

"The Artistic Director [St. Petersburg Revelations] was the young British conductor Alexander Walker, who, as Principal Guest Conductor of the Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra of Russia, is also an expert in the performance of Russian music. The festival offered a fascinating and enriching glimpse into music from St. Petersburg, to mark this year's Tercentenary celebrations, and was held in association with the St. Petersburg authority itself.I attended the festival's thrilling final concert at the Conway Hall, Holburn on 15th September, given by the Russian Chamber Orchestra of London, a group formed in 1998, specialising in Russian music whose recent appearances included a premiere by Galina Ustvolskaya and Mukhmedov's Russian Ballet at the Coliseum. Here they were conducted stylishly by Alexander Walker in a stimulating programme that featured premieres by Vladimir Uspensky (born 1937), Andrei Petrov (born 1930) and Yuri Falik (born 1936), leading St. Petersburg composers of the senior generation, framed by two Russian "classics": Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.A Russian flavour was immediately set with Prokofiev's Vision Fugitives, impressionistic piano pieces in a most effective string orchestra version by Rudolf Barshai. A daring work to begin with, Alexander Walker soon elicited a cohesive ensemble to convey the widely varied moods of these epigrammatic miniatures: from the elusive poetic to the boisterous, from piquant neo-classicism to virulently aggressive, the serene and visionary.The Russian Chamber Orchestra of London's vibrant sonority was displayed to great effect in the Fanfare and Requiem by Yuri Falik, a composer with a distinctive, often ravishing approach to new tonality. Especially effective was the idiomatic use of the medium, for instance the rhetorical power of allowing simple ostinato figures to continue beyond the stretches of melody they accompany, a device Tchaikovsky also uses eloquently in his Serenade that concluded the programme.In this popular masterpiece, the Russian Chamber Orchestra of London came fully into their own, with Alexander Walker welding the ensemble with tremendous energy and immediacy. A former student of Ilya Musin in St. Petersburg, Walker has a strong affinity for the Russian style, which came across in the intensity and warmth of this fully-engaging performance. The orchestra responded with rich sonorities, especially Tchaikovsky' many chordal themes, and after the balance of sumptuous melodic writing and delicacy in the Waltz, the touching Elegie was imbued with just the right amount of nostalgia, the finale bristling with zest. It formed a stirring conclusion to this rewarding and enlightening programme, an initiative for which much credit is due to the St. Petersburg Revelations festival organisers." 

Malcolm Miller / Music and Vision, December 2001

Wieiawski Philharmonic Orchestra, Poland

"... A conductor with an understanding of structure and a special gift for building musical mood." 

Lublin Courier, October 2000

Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra

 "... a subtle musician possessing a feeling for style, concise conducting gestures and unusually expressive movements.

 The 35th Symphony written by the mature Mozart was dedicated to his friend Zigmund Haffner on the occasion of being awarded his title. The combination of joie de vivre, profundity and the heart-felt qualities of Mozart's music, underpinned by a refined approach to structure were deftly conveyed under the leadership of Maestro Walker.It was the first performance in Voronezh of Soirees Musicales, by Benjamin Britten. These charming miniatures, exploring with originality, the colours of the orchestra were performed with panache and with understanding of the style of the music.The second concert in Voronezh was entitled "Pushkin in Music". Maestro Walker proved himself to be a sympathetic accompanist in this concert. The complex accompaniment to Lauri's Songa from Dargomidjsky's Opera "The Stone Guest" (soloist of the Philharmonic, Galina Raznichenko) was performed splendidly.A storm of applause greeted the performance of "The Three Wonders" from "The Fairy Tale of the Czar Sultan", where the orchestra subtly conveyed the contrasts between the fantastical images.In Alexander Walker, we saw a subtle musician, possessing a feeling of style, concise conducting gestures and unususally expressive movements. It will be marvellous if this acquaintance continues." 

Elena Semenova / Voronezh Courier, February 1999

"He is comfortable in a wide range of styles..He has a good rapport with the musicians of the orchestra, and is able to produce the results he requires from them. He has a deep understanding of music, and his conducting is energetic and committed." 

Leonid Korchmar / Director of Opera, Kirov Opera, December 1998

"It is without doubt that this young conductor will show himself to be a superlative director of the orchestra possessing outstanding musical and conducting qualities." 

Professor Ilya Musin / St. Petersburg State Conservatory, December 1998

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©2017 BY ALEXANDER WALKER