Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Donald Maxwell, Richard Suart, Arthur Sullivan|
Arthur Sullivan: The Contrabandista, The Foresters
Sullivan before he met Gilbert
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 12/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Almost as good as hearing a lost Gilbert and Sullivan score is hearing a score to a musical composed by Arthur Sullivan before he ever met William S. Gilbert! Such an opportunity has been afforded us on the Hyperion CD "The Contrabandista [and] The Foresters" (CDA67486)
The first was a comic operetta with lyrics by F.C. Burnand, called "an original" work to let the public know it was not a reworking of an older French or German play. Since we have only 16 selections from the score, the plot need not concern us here (you can read the synopsis in the program notes). The music is certainly not up to the standards that Sullivan would set for himself once he met Gilbert, but most of it can certainly stand on its own merits. The problem was Sullivan's lack of experience in the field of musical comedy (he had composed only "Cox and Box" before "The Contrabandista") and the really horrible lyrics with which he had to work. ("I'll take his manly hand/And by his side I'll stand" is one of the more tolerable examples.)
But his finale to Act I certainly has a memorable bounce that anticipates the great finale tunes to come, while the soprano aria in Act II sounds quite lovely, almost anticipating greater musical moments in "The Yeomen of the Guard." This is certainly a Must for all Gilbert and Sullivan lovers.
"The Foresters" gives us 9 selections from the incidental music Sullivan composed for a play by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The lyrics here are surprisingly little better than Burnand's, but the fairy music looks backward to Sullivan's idol, Mendelssohn, and forward to "Iolanthe."
This disc was made possible by the Arthur Sullivan Society and "angels" who sponsored individual tracks. An excellent cast of soloists is accompanied by the London Chorus and New London Orchestra under Ronald Crop. The lyrics are given in the notes. Grab this one while it is still available.