Cellier • Ford • Sullivan
Ford: Mr Jericho; Sullivan: Haddon Hall; Cellier: Captain Billy
Henry Waddington, Ed Lyon, Ben McAteer, Fiona Kimm, Eleanor Dennis, Adrrian Thompson, Donald Maxwell, Sarah Tynan, Angela Simkin; BBC Singers; BBC Concert Orchestra/Martin Yates
Dutton Epoch 2CDLX7372 150:31 mins (2 discs)
Following the break-up of their creative partnership in 1890 – ostensibly due to the shared costs of a carpet in the foyer of the Savoy Theatre – Gilbert and Sullivan went their separate ways for a while. One of the main results of this mutual independence was the latter’s ‘original light English opera’, Haddon Hall, setting a text by playwright and librettist Sydney Grundy, which opened at the Savoy in September 1892 and ran for just over 200 performances. Successful in its day, it subsequently fell out of favour, but there’s been renewed interest of late, including this – the work’s first professional recording.
It’s good to have it, though by Sullivan’s best standards the score itself is second-rate – impeccably crafted but somewhat dull in its earnest retelling of a story of elopement set at the Derbyshire stately home, moved by Grundy to the period just before the Restoration in 1660. Gilbert’s absence is notable in the heavy-handed approach taken by Grundy, whose ‘humorous’ scenes involving Puritans and a ‘comic’ Scotsman called McCrankie are leaden.
Filling up the discs are two lesser Savoy works, both with Gilbertian librettos by Harry Greenbank and scores exhibiting Sullivan’s influence. The melodious Mr Jericho (1893) is the work of Ernest Ford; nearly as good is François Cellier’s Captain Billy (1891).
Casts are of fine quality and have the style at their fingertips. The BBC forces are excellent. Conductor John Andrews makes the best possible case for all three pieces, bringing spirit, dash and sensitivity to his task.