Walden Symphony No. 1/Walden

May 9, 2008


The last time I heard Chris Walden it was a big band CD that was made available to me in conjunction with a performance at a night club in San Diego which turned out to be quite the concert. A classical work about the earth and its elements is somewhat a radical departure from a honking sax solo backed by some pretty frantic brass playing. I was more than intrigued to investigate this new release given the fact that new classical works are only performed and seldom recorded. What was the style going to be like? My initial thought was something along the lines of a Patrick Williams American Concerto, a fusion of symphonic orchestral and jazz or a Gershwin American in Paris. As you read further in the review you’ll find out how wrong I was!

The 40+ minute symphony is divided into four movements earth, water, air, and fire/reprise with tempo notations of andante, vivace, adagio, and allegro. Beginning with a crash followed by grumbling in the low register one can vision the beginning of the formation of the earth as the theme is revealed in many forms showing the evolution but also the constant nature of the planet. The water movement (vivace) begins with pizzicato from the strings (drops of water) seques into a quiet theme carried by the strings. It however changes into atonal with some disturbing chords from the brass and bassoon before ending with the pizzicato from the strings as it began. Walden shows his softer side in the air movement (adagio) complete with a romantic violin solo, lush brass chords, and a Chinatown trumpet solo. There is no wind storm, only peace and tranquility. The fourth movement (allegro) is a picture of the unpredictability of what fire could do given the opportunity to burn out of control. Walden ends the final movement with a return to the theme from the earth, water, air, and ends the work in silence.

Included on the CD is a “behind the scenes” video showing the 79 piece Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra with comments from the engineer, Chris Walden, and orchestra members. This reviewer applauds the fine first effort that Walden came up with knowing that he’ll likely never recover the production costs but was more interested in performing it and making it available. While there are slight references in the symphony to his jazzy background, his classical training came through loud and clear and this is a piece that a major symphony orchestra could perform and captivate an audience with. A jazz audience might very well become disinterested It is tonal, atonal, and most of all a thought provoking piece that can certainly be recommended as a refreshing change and a welcome addition to your classical collection.

Origin Classical OC33002

Recorded & Mixed by Al Schmitt

Track Listing:

1. Gaia (andante) 13:06

2. Hudor (vivace) 8:55

3. Aer (adagio) (9:34)

4. Therma (allegro) (9:10)

Total Time: 40:45






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