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Sullivan 'The Beauty Stone' on Chandos


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Author Topic: Sullivan 'The Beauty Stone' on Chandos  (Read 5863 times)
Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« on: September 27, 2013, 08:16:20 am »

The release is now officially announced for 4th November -



http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Chandos/CHAN10794%25282%2529



The cover shows Walter Passmore (1867-1946) as the Devil in one of two drawings which were commissioned from the artist John Hassall (1868-1948) by D'Oyly Carte to promote the opera. Unfortunately, the short run (50 performances) meant that the actual posters for the Savoy were never produced. This recording is absolutely complete in that it restores much significant material cut after the opening night.

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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." (Sydney Grew, 1922)

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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2013, 10:40:46 am »

Thanks for the heads-up on this significant recording! Smiley
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Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2013, 11:57:15 am »

Given the generally very positive reaction to the professional recording of Ivanhoe, released in 2010, I'm sure that this new release will only serve to enhance Sullivan's reputation away from the 'Gilbert and' stereotype. For nearly thirty years the amateur Prince Consort recording of The Beauty Stone (first issued as LPs and later CDs on the Pearl label) has done sterling service in at least allowing us to assess the opera, but by all accounts the recording sessions for Chandos were a tremendous success with all participants greatly enthused by their contact with this long-neglected score. For Chandos to arrange unusually generous recording-time (29th January - 3rd February) at Hoddinott Hall and allocate such an impressive line-up of artists they clearly have great faith in the project, which bodes well for future issues of Sullivan's larger-scale works from the same company.

 Smiley

To accompany the release (and provide the necessary performance materials for the recording), Robin Gordon-Powell, librarian of the Sullivan Society, produced a splendid new two-volume full orchestral score (with complete dialogue from the first-edition libretto and extensive background notes) and a vocal score (with complete dialogue), both of which include all the previously-cut music, and material for entrances, exits and fanfares. Beautifully presented, these scores are models of their kind and can be obtained directly from him - robin@amber-ring.co.uk. Well, Christmas is coming ...

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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." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2013, 12:42:41 pm »

I'm very excited about this release. I think the official date is November 4th, so only a month and a bit now! Then let's pray for the projected recording of "On Shore and Sea" to be made.
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 01:16:32 pm »

I have known about this recording for some time since I am a friend of the conductor's father Grin

Chandos's invitation to Rory Macdonald to conduct the opera came as something of a surprise to him Grin but I am sure, after his recent successes in the opera house-in Wexford for example-that he will have done a good job. Not quite my own cup of tea.....but nice to see a young British conductor being invited into the recording studio.
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Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2013, 04:35:44 pm »

Chandos's invitation to Rory Macdonald to conduct the opera came as something of a surprise to him Grin but I am sure, after his recent successes in the opera house-in Wexford for example-that he will have done a good job.

According to one of the Vice-Presidents of the Sullivan Society, the distinguished scholar and author David Eden who was present for several of the recording sessions, "At the initial run-through it often seemed that the chorus were lacking the life and sparkle of the orchestra. This was merely an opportunity for the conductor, Rory Macdonald, to show his skill. By the pleasantest possible methods he coaxed them into life until they delivered the music as if their lives depended on it." This is just the sort of commitment that premiere recordings need, but unfortunately don't always get - especially in a long-forgotten opera whose plot hinges on medieval diablerie and physical transformation.

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There is an excellent introduction to the opera on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beauty_Stone and further information in the online Gilbert & Sullivan Archive - http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/sullivan/beauty_stone/beauty_stone_home.html.
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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." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
jimfin
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 04:08:45 am »

Albion: I like the new picture, and approve of the choice: Cowen is (yet another) composer I want to hear more of.
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Albion
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Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)


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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 10:58:52 am »

Why, thank 'ee, kind sir ...

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cilgwyn
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 01:07:07 pm »

Indeed! The only problem is I have a strange tendency to visualise people on these forums as looking like their 'Avatar',or supplied photo!!

By the way,did you remember to wax your moustache this morning?! Grin
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jimfin
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 02:00:25 pm »

Well, the three of us all look very British today, even if Cowen was born in Jamaica
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2013, 12:11:06 am »

Thanks to Albion for a totally unexpected plug for my edition of full scores and performance materials for TBS!! I should clarify that, although I am Librarian of the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society, my work on this score was not undertaken specifically for the Society, but rather as the - at that time - next project in my ongoing series of full scores and orchestral material of the works of Arthur Sullivan, which are published by my company The Amber Ring.

Scores presently available are IVANHOE, THE BEAUTY STONE, THE CONTRABANDISTA, the oratorio THE PRODIGAL SON, complete incidental music to THE FORESTERS, THE TEMPEST and MACBETH, the cantata ON SHORE AND SEA, the masque of KENILWORTH, and the orchestral overtures MARMION and IMPERIAL MARCH. Three more scores are in preparation... Only THE TEMPEST has ever appeared in full score before, and I have invariably used the composer's autograph manuscript and other original material when reconstructing and editing these scores.

I am indeed proud to have been able to contribute to the ongoing rehabilitation of Sullivan's music and reputation, with professional recordings already having been made of the first five in this list, and recordings of ON SHORE AND SEA and KENILWORTH scheduled for early November, conducted by Richard Bonynge.

Several weeks ago I was lucky to listen to the first edit, with Rory Mcdonald, of THE BEAUTY STONE. It is sensational!!

Cheers —
ROBIN
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2013, 12:27:04 am »

Yes,he's good like that! Grin And cheers to you,Robin! We're all looking forward to this recording. Wonderful! Smiley
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jimfin
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 02:47:46 am »

I can recommend Robin's Beauty Stone full score: it has clearly had the stone itself placed around its neck, such a beautiful edition it is. It's fascinating to see the previously unknown sections of the score (which I'm very much looking forward to hearing).
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Albion
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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 05:57:02 pm »

It's fascinating to see the previously unknown sections of the score (which I'm very much looking forward to hearing).

I heard these items (a trio for Laine, Joan and Simon; a duet for Jacqueline and The Devil; and the extended version of the beauty pageant scene) performed at a concert organised by the Sullivan Society at Portsmouth, I think in 2006 (?) They are in no way inferior to the rest of the score and were obviously only cut for expediency after the first performance lasted nearly four hours. That concert also included a concerted number cut from The Rose of Persia, which would be well worth recording (I honestly think that the BBC/ Hanover Band traversal of this score, now available on CPO, should not be regarded as definitive and could definitely be superseded). Likewise, Ronald Corp's 2001 Hyperion recording of The Golden Legend (1886) hasn't got half the visceral impact of the (admittedly less than perfect) Mackerras 1986 reading and it would be a pity for this to remain forever the only version commercially available.

Prime candidates for future fully-professional projects have to be the oratorio The Light of the World (1873), the sacred musical drama The Martyr of Antioch (1880) and the gorgeous light opera Haddon Hall (1892). Having recently spent a lot of time studying TLOTW I have revised my opinion of it considerably upward - it really needs committed advocacy and an energetic approach to bring it to life again: after all, not a single person now living has ever heard it performed to the requisite standard, a standard which caused Charles Gounod to acclaim the oratorio "a masterpiece" in 1873. With alert pacing, it could (just) be accommodated on 2 CDs with no cuts.

The Martyr of Antioch is slightly problematic in that Sullivan wrote for a large contingent of specifically male altos to take part in the all-male choruses and any professional recording should honour this requirement. At around 85 minutes, or so, it would need a suitable coupling.

The Prince Consort recording of Haddon Hall (on the Divine Art label), whilst very welcome, is beset by orchestral and choral insecurity in places: this is one of Sullivan's grandest operatic scores (especially the Act 2 finale during which there is scene change, covered by an orchestral 'storm') and should be accorded the same attention as Ivanhoe and The Beauty Stone.

Of Sullivan's other unrecorded major works, The Chieftain (1894) has a glut of wonderful music in Act 2, but Act 1 is largely drawn from The Contrabandista (1867) which is one of Sullivan's weakest efforts (even the professionalism of the Hyperion recording can't save it from banality). Both works are further hamstrung by Burnand's libretti, which are in virtually every respect truly abysmal (and that's a euphemism).

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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 10:46:21 pm »

For what it's worth, I feel while Arthur Sullivan is not unknown, he is often falsely labeled as having created only "light music".
To be sure, much of his music was written for what the highbrow stereotype as "the burgeois", but there is certainly nothing wrong
with music which is accessable to a wider audience. I think his music is enjoyable and uplifting, regardless of the intended audience or the source of the inspiration. So Sullivan is not unsung, he may be just another victim of false judgement. So go deeper into this man's music (especially orchestral) before brushing him off as just another lightweight. The rewards are there.
And no, I am not an operetta devotee or even much of a fan of musicals, but my wife enjoys them immensely.
Go figure..
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