Walton: Troilus and Cressida - Baker, Cassilly, Luxon; Foster. London, 1976


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William Walton's only full length opera was not well-recieved by critics upon its 1954 premiere, but heard in a revised form in 1976, it comes off rather well. Walton is clearly borrowing a bit from his contemporary and rival Benjamin Britten, and yes, he is more at home when his characters turn introspective than in romantic duets, but the opera has an appealing urgency and vigor even in its more prosaic moments. Richard Cassilly and Janet Baker, as the doomed Trojan lovers, help immensely: Cassilly is at his most impassioned and Baker swings from a haunting rendition of Cressida's mournful act three aria to a frenzied mad scene at the end of the opera. Gerald English is a charming, wheedling presence as Cressida's Uncle Pandarus (a role written for Peter Pears) and Benjamin Luxon gives alluring power to the Greek rival for Cressida's love. Best of all is the undervalued british basso Richard Van Allen, in a stern portrayal of Cressida's treacherous father.

OD 11067-2