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Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)


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Author Topic: Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)  (Read 434 times)
Albion
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Cipriani Potter (1792-1871)


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« on: October 24, 2020, 10:21:09 am »

Are there any admirers out there of this multi-faceted composer away from the enduring and popular association with W.S. Gilbert? There is far more to Sullivan than is commonly believed or that his somewhat maligned reputation warrants! In the last 20 years the vigorous Sir Arthur Sullivan Society based here in the UK has fought his corner magnificently and sponsored many significant and revelatory discs. The following is a list of recommended professional recordings which are all well worth investigating, but perhaps those interested might first explore the discs highlighted in bold. These will give a fair showing of Sullivan's achievement across a range of genres - symphony, overture, incidental music, oratorio, cantata and romantic (not comic) opera:

Incidental music to The Tempest (1861-62)/ Incidental music to Macbeth (1888)/ Overture Marmion (1867) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7331
Suite from The Tempest (1861-62)/ Symphony in E The Irish (1863-66)/ Overture In Memoriam (1866) - Chandos CHAN9859
Overture The Sapphire Necklace (1863-4)/ Incidental music to The Merchant of Venice (1871)/ Incidental music to Henry VIII (1877), etc. - Marco Polo 8.223461
Ballet L'Ile Enchantee (1864)/ Ballet music from Thespis (1871) - Marco Polo 8.223461
Oratorio The Prodigal Son (1869)/ Boer War Te Deum (1900) - Hyperion CDA 67423
Oratorio The Light of the World (1873) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7356
Incidental music to The Merry Wives of Windsor (1874)/ Suite from Macbeth (1888)/ Incidental music to King Arthur (1895) - Marco Polo 8.223635
Cantata The Golden Legend (1886) - Hyperion CDA 67280 (now available as download or archive CD)
Romantic Opera Ivanhoe (1891) - Chandos CHAN10578(3)
Original English Opera Haddon Hall (1892) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7372
Ballet Victoria and Merrie England (1897) - Marco Polo 8.223677
Romantic Musical Drama The Beauty Stone (1898) - Chandos CHAN 10794(2)
Songs (1855-1900) - Chandos CHAN 10935(2)

Unfortunately the professional recording (again for Dutton Epoch) of one of Sullivan's most attractive choral works, the Sacred Musical Drama The Martyr of Antioch (1880), has had to be put back to 2022 at the earliest because of the current pandemic...

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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2020, 09:44:53 am »

Are there any admirers out there of this multi-faceted composer away from the enduring and popular association with W.S. Gilbert? There is far more to Sullivan than is commonly believed or that his somewhat maligned reputation warrants! In the last 20 years the vigorous Sir Arthur Sullivan Society based here in the UK has fought his corner magnificently and sponsored many significant and revelatory discs. The following is a list of recommended professional recordings which are all well worth investigating, but perhaps those interested might first explore the discs highlighted in bold. These will give a fair showing of Sullivan's achievement across a range of genres - symphony, overture, incidental music, oratorio, cantata and romantic (not comic) opera:

Incidental music to The Tempest (1861-62)/ Incidental music to Macbeth (1888)/ Overture Marmion (1867) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7331
Suite from The Tempest (1861-62)/ Symphony in E The Irish (1863-66)/ Overture In Memoriam (1866) - Chandos CHAN9859
Overture The Sapphire Necklace (1863-4)/ Incidental music to The Merchant of Venice (1871)/ Incidental music to Henry VIII (1877), etc. - Marco Polo 8.223461
Ballet L'Ile Enchantee (1864)/ Ballet music from Thespis (1871) - Marco Polo 8.223461
Oratorio The Prodigal Son (1869)/ Boer War Te Deum (1900) - Hyperion CDA 67423
Oratorio The Light of the World (1873) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7356
Incidental music to The Merry Wives of Windsor (1874)/ Suite from Macbeth (1888)/ Incidental music to King Arthur (1895) - Marco Polo 8.223635
Cantata The Golden Legend (1886) - Hyperion CDA 67280 (now available as download or archive CD)
Romantic Opera Ivanhoe (1891) - Chandos CHAN10578(3)
Original English Opera Haddon Hall (1892) - Dutton Epoch 2CDLX 7372
Ballet Victoria and Merrie England (1897) - Marco Polo 8.223677
Romantic Musical Drama The Beauty Stone (1898) - Chandos CHAN 10794(2)
Songs (1855-1900) - Chandos CHAN 10935(2)

Unfortunately the professional recording (again for Dutton Epoch) of one of Sullivan's most attractive choral works, the Sacred Musical Drama The Martyr of Antioch (1880), has had to be put back to 2022 at the earliest because of the current pandemic...

 Smiley
I agree completely, while he is sometimes dismissed as a composer of "light" music, he is also a gifted composer who can write more compelling pieces. He is also quite prolific.
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Cipriani Potter (1792-1871)


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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2020, 10:41:14 am »

I agree completely, while he is sometimes dismissed as a composer of "light" music, he is also a gifted composer who can write more compelling pieces. He is also quite prolific.

In British music many have fallen prey to the label of "light music composer" usually intended by the critic as a condescending and dismissive label. Arthur Sullivan, Frederic Cowen, Edward German, Samuel-Coleridge Taylor, John Foulds and Malcolm Arnold are prime examples: each of these wrote splendid music of real emotional depth and great technical accomplishment as well as works intended purely for entertainment.

Furthermore, good music is good music in any genre - the creation of "light music" requires a special kind of genius to make it live beyond its immediate production.

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2020, 12:08:35 pm »

I do think that the recent recordings of The Light of the World and The Beauty Stone really demonstrated that Sullivan was a gifted composer of depth who was sometimes better off for a little distance from Gilbert (much though I enjoy many of their collaborations). I am very much looking forward to the forthcoming recording of The Martyr of Antioch, which is sadly postponed due to the pandemic.

There are few days when I don't listen to Sullivan in some form. And of course at this season most of us will probably be singing "It came upon the midnight clear" somewhere.
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Cipriani Potter (1792-1871)


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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2020, 02:10:08 pm »

Hi, Jamie. I entirely agree with you - some of Sullivan's finest music exists outside the traditionally-accepted canon of the wonderful comic operas (not only those with libretti by Gilbert - Act II of The Chieftain is an absolute gem). Dutton's recording of The Light of the World has been a revelation, especially such numbers as In Rama was there a voice heard, proving David Eden's assertion that the vocal scores of Sullivan's works give scanty idea of the actual sound in professional performance.

Regarding The Martyr of Antioch it is indeed a shame than the scheduled professional recording has had to be postponed since John Andrews is such a splendid advocate of Sullivan and British music in general. I attended the 2000 performance in Buxton where the performance and subsequent CD release (on Symposium) was woefully undercut by the sub-par chorus despite some splendid orchestral playing under Richard Balcombe and good soloists. For this reason the 1983 performance by Imperial Opera is a preferable stopgap - here are substantial extracts:

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/det8xd6gs8vg8/The+Martyr+of+Antioch

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2020, 12:51:56 pm »

I still enjoy the Buxton, but thank you for this: I used to have it on cassettes, but I don't know what became of them.
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Cipriani Potter (1792-1871)


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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2020, 03:05:46 pm »

I still enjoy the Buxton, but thank you for this: I used to have it on cassettes, but I don't know what became of them.

For the record, the performers in 1983 were:

Penelope Beavan, soprano
Debora Miles-Johnson, contralto
Stephen Chaytow, tenor
Anthony Barratt, baritone
Richard Stockton, bass

Chorus & Orchestra of Imperial Opera
Michael Withers, conductor

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
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Cipriani Potter (1792-1871)


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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2020, 06:48:46 pm »

The acclaimed pianist and accompanist David Owen Norris has specially recorded (for Youtube) the thirty-six songs by Sullivan that will not be included in the two Chandos releases:

https://www.davidowennorris.com/unheard-songs-by-sir-arthur-sullivan/?fbclid=IwAR3RuU4XubNiR_2I2XTtXxQvGrTPNonT_YNr260fSVh2C_J2mT_MdZbsV08

"The double CD Songs & Ballads of Arthur Sullivan (Chandos CHAN10935) with Mary Bevan, Ben Johnson & Ashley Riches appeared in 2017. A further selection, with the same singers plus Kitty Whately, will appear on the Chandos label in May 2021. Those discs, coupled with the RNCM films, will present all Sullivan’s songs – a remarkable and astonishingly little-known repertoire by one of the greatest masters of vocal composition."

For the convenience of interested members of the forum I have converted these "extras" into MP3s in a folder on the downloads board.

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)

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