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The Siesta bears little resemblance to the sort I occasionally experience in bed, when there is no book or review to write; it is indeed rather eventful. The six movements of the Wise Virgins suite demonstrates, if nothing else, that Bach himself was a supreme master of the orchestra. If the noble chorale tunes that underpin so many of these cantata extracts seem unduly cushioned and upholstered, there are ravishing noises to compensate. The wise and foolish virgins of Matthew 25 feature in many a cathedral porch (as statuary, I hasten to add). I always relish the vacuous faces of the foolish as they turn their lamps down to discover there is no oil in them. The Gospel narrative has them rushing off to market after the wise have shown unbearable priggishness in refusing to share their oil. During their absence shopping, the bridegroom arrives unexpectedly and the doors are slammed to. For the excluded virgins Walton reorchestrated the opening of Bach's Cantata No 26, 'Ach wie flüchtig' ('Ah! how fleeting'). The original was concerned with that daughter of Jairus, who appeared dead but was only sleeping so that she could get up again. Such vicissitudes of experience can illustrate equally the woes of the foolish virgins [listen -- track 12, 0:00-0:58]. The English Northern Philharmonia is on admirable form, crisp in attack, and thoroughly enjoying the variety of fare Walton has offered them and their so judicious conductor.

Copyright © 24 November 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK


Walton: The Quest; The Wise Virgins

8.555868 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 62'59" 2002 HNH International Ltd

English Northern Philharmonia / David Lloyd-Jones

The Quest: A ballet in five scenes; Siesta; The Wise Virgins: Suite from the Ballet (after J S Bach)



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