Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Do not underestimate 'Facade': launching a new recording of Walton's classic

Carole Boyd & Zeb Soanes - Walton: Facade - Orchid Classics
Carole Boyd & Zeb Soanes
The premises of Wartski, the art and antique dealers, is not the most obvious place to celebrate the release of a new CD of Sir William Walton's entertainment Facade, but there were in fact a number of intriguing links. The CD has just been released on the Orchid Classics label and features John Wilson conducting an ensemble made up of members of his orchestra, with reciters Carole Boyd (the actress best known as the voice of Lynda Snell on The Archers) and Zeb Soanes (a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4).

Wartski's has interesting links to the Sitwell family, not only did Dame Edith (who wrote the words for Facade) buy jewellery through the firm, but Sacheverell Sitwell wrote scholarly articles for Wartski's exhibitions during the 1940s and 1950s. These exhibitions were arranged by Kenneth Snowman, whose father was chairman of Wartski (having married into the Wartski family), and Kenneth's son Nicholas Snowman is the present chairman as well as having a distinguished career as an arts administrator, co-founding the London Sinfonietta, becoming chief executive of the South Bank Centre, general manager of Glyndebourne Opera and director of Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, France.

Nicholas Snowman was at the launch party, as was Sir William Sitwell as well as the god daughter of Constant Lambert, the conductor who made a pioneering recording of Facade with Edith Sitwell. The event also provided an opportunity to finally meet the record's producer Andrew Keener whose brainchild the recording was.

Andrew Keener's intention was to create a musically accurate version of Facade, and he pointed out that a recording like the classic ones made by Edith Sitwell are marvellous but rather approximate and that Andrew felt that there were benefits from the recitations being faithful to the score. Chatting to Zeb Soanes and Carole Boyd, both emphasised that they were concerned to remain faithful to Sitwell's poetry. But Zeb added that he had been warned by Dame Felicity Palmer 'Do not underestimate Facade' and in fact both Zeb and Carole found the recording process so tricky that they 'though it was going to kill them'. Though in the end they had a ball making the recording.

The recording is available from Amazon.

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