Sullivan: Cox and Box

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Sullivan
LABELS: C & B Productions
WORKS: Cox and Box
PERFORMER: Jamie Bierchen, Thomas J Godfrey, Robert Godfrey, Ensemble/James Nelson
CATALOGUE NO: Vol. 1 (distr. by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society) DDD
Sullivan’s early operetta Cox and Box (words not by WS Gilbert, but by FC Burnand) is usually heard in a shortened version lasting about 30 minutes. Here, as a curiosity, is the full, hour-long version, given by American performers – amateurs, as is obvious to the ear from general manner as well as out-of-tune notes. Bouncer’s attempted British accent is particularly painful in the extensive spoken dialogue. In a singular misunderstanding, the original piano accompaniment has been rescored for harpsichord, string quartet, harp and mandolin under the delusion that such an ensemble represents the Victorian drawing-room.

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It just won’t do. There is a little good material in the usually omitted portions, but those who seek it must turn to the professionally performed and comically expert recording (at full length, with original piano accompaniment) newly issued by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. (Inquiries to 48 Front St, Cockfield, Bishop Auckland DL13 5DS, tel 0388 710308.) It is as yet on cassette only. Which enterprising CD company will take it over? Arthur Jacobs