Sullivan Songs

Author: 
Andrew Lamb

Sullivan Songs

  • Let me dream again
  • Marquis de Mincepie
  • Mary Morison
  • (The) Moon in gentle brightness
  • O mistress mine
  • Orpheus with his lute
  • (The) Willow song
  • (The) Lost chord
  • Sweethearts
  • St. Agnes' Eve
  • Dove song
  • (The) Window, or The Love of the Wrens, Gone
  • (The) Window, or The Love of the Wrens, Winter
  • What does little birdie say?
  • (The) Absent-minded Beggar
  • Let me dream again
  • Marquis de Mincepie
  • Mary Morison
  • (The) Moon in gentle brightness
  • O mistress mine
  • Orpheus with his lute
  • (The) Willow song
  • (The) Lost chord
  • Sweethearts
  • St. Agnes' Eve
  • Dove song
  • (The) Window, or The Love of the Wrens, Gone
  • (The) Window, or The Love of the Wrens, Winter
  • What does little birdie say?
  • (The) Absent-minded Beggar

This recording offes the most compelling case for Sullivan's song output that I have heard. Of the Shakespeare songs that are perhaps the crowning glory of his work in this form, O mistress mine, Orpheus with his Lute and The Willow Song are here in all their beauty. At the other extreme we have The Marquis de Mincepie, a frivolous piece written for a family Christmas entertainment. In between there is remarkably little of the over-sentimentality that even Sullivan's greatest admirers find a shade embarrassing. The Sweethearts duet (words by Gilbert) and Tennyson settings such as St Agnes' Eve come over especially winningly.
The chronological extremes of Sullivan's career are represented, too, in those Shakespeare songs (written when he was only 21) and the setting of Kipling's The Absent-minded Beggar written to support the Boer War effort only a year before the composer's death. This last sounds a shade like a leftover from the Savoy Operas, but its performance here by Sanford Sylvan demonstrates as well as anything the stirring advocacy of the performers here. Both soloists sing firmly, clearly and in lively fashion throughout, and there are flowing accompaniments from Gary Wedow.
The recording originates from Northeastern Records, a department of Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. It has obviously been extremely well thought out, and is accompanied by a beautifully illustrated booklet with detailed notes by the Sullivan scholar Steven Ledbetter. There are even credits for coaching British diction; but it is here that the one real irritant of the recording—apart from a somewhat over-reverberant acoustic—lies. Sylvan, especially, reproduces some of the worst excesses of D'Oyly Carte preciousness. Fortunately this detracts but little from the recording's appeal.'

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