Walton's compact, 35-minute-long oratorio reveals the composer's real gift as a future composer of film music. The wonderful scene when the disembodied hand of God writes the words of judgment on the banquet- room wall is straight-out horror movie stuff, while the "praise song" to the various Babylonian gods is a triumphal march that would not have been out of place in Star Wars.
Sir David Willcocks presides over a lean and mean performance that makes the most of Walton's vivid orchestration, and also permits a large amount of text to be clearly heard over the joyful tumult of the instruments. Both the Gloria and Coronation Te Deum clearly come from the same well as "Belshazzar," so anyone wanting all of Walton's major choral works on a single disc should snap this up. --David Hurwitz