Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Album Review: Sullivan: Symphony in E Major "Irish," Etc.

Sullivan: Symphony in E Major "Irish;" Overture: In Memoriam, The Suite from "The Tempest," Op. 1Richard Hickox, BBC Philharmonic, Chandos, 2000

There was a time when recordings of Sir Arthur Sullivan's orchestral music were rarities. When a previously unrecorded orchestral piece was included on a comic opera LP to fill out the disc, it was something of an event.

Not so anymore. In 2000, Chandos released this compact disc devoted exclusively to Sullivan's orchestral music of the 1860's. Richard Hickox conducts the BBC Philharmonic.

The first piece is Overture: In Memoriam, a meditation on the death of Sullivan's father. Actually, it is not as morbid as the title sounds. It's more like a celebration of his father's life.

The Suite from "The Tempest," Op. 1, is a graduation piece from the Leipzig Conservatory. Under the influence of Mendelssohn's incidental music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Sullivan shows off his gift for concocting pleasing melodies, a gift that would serve him well in his collaboration with W. S. Gilbert.

The Symphony in E Major, "The Irish," is a more substantive work. It doesn't, however, sound especially Irish.

Not included is Sullivan's Overture di Ballo, which dates from 1870 and therefore technically doesn't qualify for inclusion on this disc. More likely, it just didn't fit.

I think Hickox acquits himself well here, perhaps more so than with his recording of "Cox & Box" and "Trial by Jury" where the voice talents weren't all up to speed.

Sir Arthur Sullivan
In Memorium
Conducted by Richard Hickox
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, 2000
Video added May 1, 2016

Note:  The four posts published after this contain reviews of different recordings of Sir Arthur Sullivan's music.


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