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CD Review

Arthur Sullivan

The Contrabandista

(or the Law of the Ladrones)
Comic opera in two acts (1867)
  • The Contrabandista
  • The Foresters (or Robin Hood and Maid Marian)
    Incidental Music to the play by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1892)
Claire Rutter
Frances McCafferty
Ashley Catling
Donald Maxwell
The London Chorus
The New London Orchestra/Ronald Corp
Hyperion CDA67486 76m DDD
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These two works prove to be highly entertaining and extremely enjoyable on all counts, thus continuing the admirable series of choral works that Hyperion initiated way back in the late 90's with Sidney Jones' 'The Geisha'. This time we have an almost forgotten operetta and some finely crafted incidental music by Arthur Sullivan, the genius of those much loved 'Savoy operas' under the inimitable baton of Ronald Corp who is the mastermind behind these long lost discoveries.

No one can say that 'The Contrabandista' is a lost masterpiece but it certainly contains some interesting and melodic pieces. Amongst the most intriguing is the quintet, "Hand of Fate" and a lovely little Dance that already anticipates the deft work that emanates from the later operettas. Clare Rutter's soprano part is excellently sung and she is provided with fine backup by Corp and the other soloists.

I greatly enjoyed the incidental music to Tennyson's 'The Foresters' as here, the composer retains his penchant for providing atmospheric and colourful tone painting. Corp shapes the music sensitively and he also coaxes the soloists to excellent heights with Ashley Catling particularly impressive.

With detailed notes, a stunning painting on the front cover and a beautifully balanced recording, this new Sullivan disc is a must for enthusiasts of late 19th Century light classical fare and another winner in Hyperion's exhaustive series of rediscoveries.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech