The Strad issue
Kurt Nikkanen (violin) New Haven Symphony Orchestra/William Boughton
This disc is the first fruit of a project to record Walton’s music with an eye on the manuscript sources held at Yale University, where the New Haven Symphony Orchestra performs. As far as I can hear (and there’s no mention of anything specific in the booklet), this hasn’t resulted in revelatory new discoveries in either of the works here. But Kurt Nikkanen, a New York-based violinist and former DeLay student at the Juilliard, gives a freshly thought account of the Violin Concerto, one that captures the music’s Mediterranean warmth as well as its emotional undercurrents. It doesn’t have quite the excitement or tonal allure of Heifetz’s mono 1950 recording with the composer conducting (RCA), but few ever will. The concert hall-style recording means the soloist isn’t unduly spotlit and Walton’s colourful orchestration is given its due. The coupled First Symphony is a bit routine and lacks the edge-of-seat intensity of Previn (RCA).