Rory Macdonald

Sir Arthur Sullivan: The Beauty Stone

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Of all of Arthur Sullivan's operas, The Beauty Stone (1898) is the most obscure, not only because it was a failure after a run of 50 performances at the Savoy Theatre, but because it was regarded as unusual for being a serious romantic music drama, rather unlike the successful comedies Sullivan had written with W.S. Gilbert. Setting an overly long and dialogue-heavy book by Arthur Wing Pinero and Joseph William Domyns Carr, Sullivan composed a lyrical and sentimental score that flows with lovely melodies and warm orchestration, but lacks the satire and wit that gave spice to his collaborations with Gilbert. This recording by Rory Macdonald and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is a pleasant rediscovery of a neglected charmer, and it surely makes a better impression than the original performances did, because two hours' worth of the wordy dialogue has been removed, leaving Sullivan's delightful music. But even the most enthusiastic fans of Sullivan's best work may find it lacks a distinctive edge and is fairly innocuous without it. Macdonald keeps the music well-paced and vibrant, and the cast is engaging and capable of singing the most difficult numbers, so this Chandos release is preferred over the older Pearl recording of The Beauty Stone that suffered from a number of deficiencies.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Beauty Stone
1 2:59
2 3:12
3 1:41
4 1:03
5 3:36
6 5:08
7 4:33
8 0:15
9 1:17
10 2:34
11 2:13
12 4:08
13 2:49
14 1:56
15 3:13
16 2:13
17 2:16
18 1:04
19 2:15
20 2:02
21 2:30
22 4:08

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Beauty Stone
1 2:22
2 1:13
3 2:07
4 5:43
5 2:18
6 3:41
7 2:31
8 1:26
9 2:00
10 2:07
11 4:10
12 1:43
13 3:55
14 3:54
15 2:06
16 4:25
17 3:20
18 2:15
19 4:20
20 2:02
21 3:23
22 2:31
23 0:35
24 2:01
25 0:49
26 4:52
blue highlight denotes track pick