Prior to being catapulted into the A-list of British composers in 1929 with his Viola Concerto, William Walton had achieved more notoriety than critical acclaim. His reputation stemmed from his ‘entertainment’ for speaking voice and six instrumentalists entitled Façade, a collaboration with the poet, and Walton’s then landlady, Edith Sitwell. Following its first public performance in 1923 critics branded Walton an avant-garde modernist and Sitwell’s poems – think 1920s, surreal rap – were decidedly unappreciated.
With the new jazz style and quirky harmonies very much in evidence, Façade was, at the time, daring stuff indeed, but it is difficult for us now to understand the reactions of those first audiences. However, over the years listeners have become accustomed to all manner of dissonant and difficult music and today Walton’s Facade is firmly fixed as one of his most popular works.
Here, five of the best-known movements of the Facade Suite – Polka, Country Dance, Old Sir Faulk, Swiss Jodelling Song and Popular Song (for many years used as the theme tune to BBC TV’s Face the Music classical music quiz) – are presented in an arrangement for wind quintet (with the horn ‘doubling’ on a woodblock). It’s such good fun both to listen to and to play that it is becoming somewhat of wind quintet ‘staple’. As played, broadcast and recorded by the Haffner Wind Ensemble for many years.
For copyright reasons this arrangement is only available in printed sheet music format