"This CD spotlights Sullivan's non-Gilbert works, and, as such, is full of surprises. Still, the producers seemed to have decided to put in as much material that is "Sullivanesque" as possible. "Ho jolly jenkin" from Ivanhoe is probably the most familiar, and perhaps should have been replaced by something else from the same work. The biggest failing is the neglect of The Rose of Persia in favor of The Emerald Isle. The selections from The Emerald Isle that appear on this recording are not even Sullivan's arrangements, since he died before he finished it. Besides, The Rose of Persia is much better, both as drama and as music. The biggest surprises are "The gay hussar" from The Chieftain and the two selections from The Martyr of Antioch. The madrigal from Haddon Hall is performed a little too slow. The pace of "The sun's in the sky" may be too brisk for those familiar with earlier recordings, but I like it. "Ride on" (The Beauty Stone) is perhaps the most uncharacteristic selection. The soloists are okay, though the tenor creaks once or twice. All in all, a recording not to be missed by any G&S fan. Maybe the next time a recording like this is undertaken, we'll get an entire work -- how long must we wait to hear The Martyr of Antioch in its entirety in a modern recording?! (And yes, I know The Rose of Persia is due out this year . . . .)"
How could one not wish for more?
Brett Farrell | Cape May, NJ USA | 08/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love and hate this cd. I love it because it thrills whom ever listens to it with the beautiful but neglected works of Arthur Sullivan that were not written in partnership with W.S. Gilbert. The recording and the quality of the preformances are fantastic. I especially loved 'The Emerald Isle' and 'The Beauty Stone'. It filled me with the desire to consume these operas en total. Unfortunatly this is also the reason I hate it. It is quite difficult to find complete recordings of these operas (Besides the dreadull Pearl Label ones). From just a few scraps of the Emerald Isle I am in love with it, but seemingly doomed to either subpar recordings of nothing at all...woe to me!"
An excellent but flawed disc
J Winterton | Bromley, Kent United Kingdom | 01/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is in many ways an excellent and very welcome addition to the growing range of recordings of Sullivan's "non-G" music. The items selected are enjoyable and are well-sung and well-performed. However, the disc is not generously filled. While this may well have been unavoidable, what is not is the decision to occupy a significant chunk of the limited time available with selections from "The Martyr of Antioch". While I personally am an admirer of this sacred music drama, it is just that, and from 1880 too. The fact that it was semi-staged for a few performances in the 1890s no more makes it an 1890s opera than (eg) a modern concert performance of "Ivanhoe" would turn the latter into a 21st century cantata! The inclusion of the "Martyr" items is all the more annoying in view of the lack of coverage of some bona fide 1890s operas, notably "The Rose of Persia". So one star off for poor judgement in this respect - but still a very worthwhile disc for Sullivanians!"
A ground-breaking release
Aronne | 02/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the recording which finally proves that Sullivan's lesser-known operas should be rated more highly than they are. There are no poor excerpts on this recording, but those that particularly stand out are When the Budding Bloom of May (Haddon Hall), both items from The Beauty Stone and the Finale from The Emerald Isle. Those people who think that Sullivan was not much of a composer away from Gilbert should be pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, this recording will prove successful enough to encourage some enterprising recording company to release complete professional recordings of Sullivan's unjustly neglected works."
Still Gasping for Breath: Why don't we have more CDs like th
Aronne | 08/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I lavish praise on this disc simply for existing. Every one of the excerpts included is fabulous! I only weep that (presumably) the budget disallowed any further recordings whether on this disc or on another. If you like Gilbert and Sullivan, you'll love this CD as well. Even if you don't have much experience with G&S this disc is worth considering.
The music is wonderful. Though "When the budding bloom of May" might at first appear to be a rip-off of the Ruddigore madrigal ("When the buds are blossoming"), it is of a very different feel, sending shivers of a distinctly different type down the spine. Sadly, Frances McCafferty's voice doesn't layer well over Gillian Knight's, and there are two points in this recording that sound a little funny. From the rollicking "Let us lead a life of pleasure" (The Gay Hussar) to the introspective "On the heights of Glentaun" the music presented is fabulous.
One song deserves a special mention, however. "`Come away,' sighs the fairy voice" is the most singly thrilling song I can think of at the moment. With Valerie Masterson as the soprano, backed up by Arthur Davies, Richard Suart and a very capably choir, the performance conveys that Sullivan's musical abilities didn't end with The Grand Duke. He was going strong to the end.
The performances are overall, very good. All of the singers understand the medium very well. Gillian Knight and Valerie Masterson are not as perfect-sounding as they once were, but both (particularly the latter) are still spectacular singers. I wouldn't have anyone else! As I mentioned, Frances McCafferty's voice sounds funny here and there (something of an edge) and Arthur Davies is a bit..."bouncy" at times, if you will. Gareth Jones is the next best thing after Donald Adams; his voice is magnificent. Richard Suart shows us how well he can sing outside of the "patter" realm, though his second song "If you wish to appear as an Irish type" from the Emerald Isle, is indeed a patter song, and one of the very best too. And Suart does it justice.
What else can I say? The recording quality is excellent, and there is no reason any G&S should *not* buy this disc. I will treasure this disc for a long, long time!"