William

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It's like a movie, a set piece from a show like The Music Man, set right here in Iowa. Pioneer days, 1865: a steam engine belching a plume so thick you can hike on it pulls a string of cars through eastern Iowa's rolling hills. Aboard a flat car sits a church bell, sturdily strapped to prevent carnage. 

That bell attracts a crowd, so whenever the engine blasts out a warning to a town down the pike, people gather to gawk--and listen. A whole crowd of rubber-neckers have heard about that bell, so it's rung in every hamlet.

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Lament, rage, bombast, it's all there in Sir William Walton's First Symphony. Written on the bones of a failed relationship, the first three movements describe a bitter time, one that can only be brought to existence by a powerful love. The final movement, composed after the mess and in the swell of a new love, recalls that instigating feeling. It is performed, here, by the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andre Previn.