I have the highest regard for my general editor on the William Walton Edition—the English conductor David Lloyd-Jones. His path-breaking edition of Boris Godunov in the 1970s has had long-lasting effects on the way the opera was performed, restoring the quirkiness of Mussorgsky’s text, and he has produced critical editions of a wide range of works—principally nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian and British works, but with a distinguished foray into Berlioz, too—all moonlighting alongside a distinguished conducting career. By offering me a Walton volume to edit, he gave me my first big break professionally; by offering me a second volume, he shored up my confidence to continue. I owe him an incalculable debt; and yet here is an instance where we disagreed—in this case just a single chord, but a chord I would so much like to lose.
The second of the volumes I did for the edition was an unusual one, consisting of concert suites derived from Walton’s film scores, including those for the Laurence Olivier Shakespeare films Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955). These suites were made in the 1960s by Muir Mathieson (1911-1975), who had conducted the recording sessions for each of these films.
|SOURCE: 1946 78s; scan of US release front cover|
|SOURCE: Manvell & Hartley, The Technique of Film Music, p. 91 (the very end of the “Charge”); I have reformatted the page here to better fit a wide rather than tall aspect-ratio. The penultimate bar is incorrectly transcribed: Walton writes this as two bars of 3/4, with each 8th-note here really a quarter.|
Mathieson has skillfully spliced the cues together, but in doing so he added a chord. The “Charge” cue ends abruptly on a downbeat—just an eighth-note chord. (It was followed on both the film and the 1946 RCA recording by the launch of the arrows; to hear those, click either of those hyperlinks.) The “Battle” cue continues in 3/4 time although with an eighth-rest on the downbeat. Mathieson elides the two, so that the downbeat chord that ends “Charge” takes the place of the eighth-rest on the downbeat of “Battle.” The problem comes in the second bar, which Walton indicates only by a ditto mark:
|SOURCE: detail of Walton's autograph of the beginning of the “Battle” cue (147c) of Henry V, taken from a screenshot of the page at the website of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University [http://brbl-zoom.library.yale.edu/viewer/1237439]. The measure numbers in red ink across the top were added by Mathieson as he prepared his suite.|
I sought to remove this extraneous chord from the new edition, as it forms no part of the film or any of the early sources, even if it was unambiguously a part of Mathieson's arrangement. David Lloyd-Jones’s response—reasonable as ever—was that as Walton had conducted a recording of the Mathieson arrangement at the time of its publication, the appearance of the chord on that recording could be taken to be Walton's acceptance of the variant reading. (Hear him conduct it here; listen closely and you might hear my teeth grinding in the background.) Given that this recording was made twenty years after the music was composed, and that Walton was hardly the most detail-conscious of composers, I was not persuaded that the presence of the chord indicated that he had even noticed it, let alone endorsed it.
And so the offending chord appears in the William Walton Edition, over the objections of the volume editor:
|SOURCE: marked-up digital scan of William Walton Edition vol. 22, p. 48 (detail).|