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CD Review

Arthur Sullivan

The Golden Legend

Elsie Janice Watson soprano
Ursula Jean Rigby, mezzo-soprano
Prince Henry Mark Wilde, tenor
Lucifer Jeffrey Black, baritone
A Forester Jonathan Brown, tenor
The London Chorus
The New London Orchestra/Ronald Corp
Hyperion CDA67280 95m 2CDs DDD
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Sullivan's reputation rests almost exclusively on his operettas written in tandem with W.S. Gilbert but the overlooked section of his compositions has only recently been given prominence.

'The Golden Legend' falls into the latter category; it is a cantata of sheer power and intrinsic compositional skill that has been quite shamefully neglected. Based on Henry Wadsworth's Longfellow's text, the work is a jolly romp featuring several original lines and the music is tuneful enough although at times there are occasional moments of staidness. There is a prologue and six scenes with a choral epilogue; each part contains some highly characterful choral singing that has the London Chorus at its most throatful. Each soloist contributes quite well to the occasionally uneven parts of the score with Jean Rigby, a particularly important exponent of the solo parts.

I enjoyed noting that Mike Dutton was the assistant engineer on this production; he definitely brings much needed expertise to Hyperion's already excellent team. I greatly enjoyed some of the large choral settings towards the end of the work and Ronald Corp directs the orchestra and chorus with his usual panache that has already been amply demonstrated in previous issues on the label. Hyperion's booklet notes are extensive and detailed with full text and a wonderful front cover, very pre-Raphaelite in nature. Recommended to all enthusiasts of this genre'.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech