Bantock gives us this programme:
Pierrot enters a glade in the park of the Petit Trianon at twilight, led thither in obedience to a mysterious message, which bids him come to sleep one night within these precincts if he would encounter Love. Half whimsical, half fearful, he wonders why he, so careless, thoughtless, and gay, should now be filled with wistful longing; and in the fast-falling darkness he lies down on a couch of fern, and falls asleep. A Moon-maiden descends the steps of the Temple of Love, and, bending over the sleeper, kisses him. He awakes and throws himself at her feet in rapt devotion, though she warns him that the kisses of the Moon are of a fatal sweetness, and that
"Whoso seeks her she gathers like a flower
He gives a life, and only gains an hour."
But Pierrot, reckless, demands the pure and perfect bliss, though life be the price to pay. With gay laughter and sprightly jest they learn together the lore of Love; but daybreak approaches, the birds awaken, and the Moon-maiden must leave him. Together they gaze at the coming dawn; then Pierrot, sinking back on his couch, falls softly asleep once more, and the Moon-maiden vanishes.
The Prelude ends with the awakening of Pierrot, his love-dream being but the illusion of a minute.
In matters of religion Bantock was very much an independent spirit, and he responded to the fatalism of Omar Khayyám, the Sufism of Hafiz and the neo-Christian philosophy expressed by Browning’s imaginary Persian sage in Ferishtah’s Fancies, in terms of a colourful sweep and a broad humanity. Similarly when he came to Biblical words his response to them was very much in terms of incidental colour and the epic drama of the story. Here we have examples of both.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2003
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