William Walton’s grand opera after Chaucer, Troilus and Cressida, was premiered in 1954 at Covent Garden. It is a large-scale, lush work, containing surging romantic duets for the lovers. Orchestrally, it sounds not unlike a Korngold film score of the 1940s but suffused with typical Waltonian rhythms and turns of phrase. This was not a cutting-edge style at the time, and the opera failed to enter the repertory: critics dismissed it as old fashioned, and the public found it less melodically memorable than Puccini.


After Walton’s death, the late musicologist Christopher Palmer assembled this symphonic suite. There are no orchestral interludes in the opera, so Palmer organised excerpts into a symphonic structure: a tense, tough opening; a light scherzo (utilising the music for the lovers’ go-between Pandarus); a slow movement drawing on the surging love music, and a triumphal finale with a gentle coda. He gave the missing vocal lines to various solo instruments. It all works beautifully.

Palmer supervised a...