Walton (1902-83) - Popular Song and Tango from 'Facade'
The original Façade,
an outrageous cabaret entertainment utterly characteristic of its time,
brought the 20-year old Walton fame and notoriety. Walton was a newcomer
to the Big City and still a bit green behind the gills, so it comes as
no surprise that the driving force behind the “façade”
(!) was Edith Sitwell. Considering that he used a mere six instrumentalists
(shades of Stravinsky's slightly earlier The Soldier's Tale), the
palette of colours elicited by the talented youngster was nothing short
of breathtaking. Nevertheless, he went on to produce two concert suites
scored for normal orchestral forces, inevitably sacrificing sinful intimacy
at the altar of richer resonance. This, in its turn, again earns our admiration,
because his orchestral scoring successfully retains a chamber-music transparency
and much of the sheer cheekiness of the original.
Song is a catchy tap-dance, which in Frederick Ashton's ballet of 1931
was danced by two gangly young men sporting blazers and straw boaters.
Nowadays, when we face this music, it will more likely evoke the dear,
departed Joseph Cooper and his (far from silent!) “silent keyboard”. And,
well, why shouldn’t it?.
Walton wittily transforms a certain well-known tune, though tune and style
are so incongruous I can't be sure which is being parodied.
© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street,
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