Image of Sir Arthur Sullivan
projects page heading

"(Gilbert's) …skill in building up the tension in his Act 1 finales in particular enabled Sullivan to demonstrate his command of the ebb and flow of rhythmical tension and variety of tempo. This is particularly so in the first-act finales of Patience, Iolanthe,
(which I personally consider the finest piece of sustained musico-dramatic construction by any British composer before Britten), The Mikado, Ruddigore, and The Gondoliers."

James Day, "Englishness in Music", 1999

recording projects - sub title

  1. C O M I N G    S O O N:

(1) In April Ashley Riches (baritone) and Mary Bevan (soprano), with David Owen Norris at the piano, recorded their contributions to our 2-CD set devoted to Sullivan's art songs for the Chandos label. The tenor Ben Johnson will be recording his contributions shortly and it is expected that the CDs will be released early in 2017.

(2) In 2017 we will be recording, with Dutton, Sullivan's 1873 oratorio on the life of Christ, The Light of the World. It will be a complete recording and will feature the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Andrews. Recording sessions are fixed for April and work is currently under way on casting. More news in due course.

(3)  We are delighted to anounce that the BBC Singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra, together with a top quality line-up of soloists, conducted by John Andrews, are to record Alfred Cellier’s final opera, The Mountebanks, in January 2017. The Mountebanks, with a libretto by W.S. Gilbert, had its première at London’s Lyric Theatre on 4 January 1892, just a week after the death of its composer, and ran for 229 peformances. It toured the UK and US, had a brief run in New York in 1893, and held a place in the amateur repertory until  World War II. Cellier (1844-1891) was a close friend and colleague of Sullivan, but also a composer in his own right.

The 2-CD set, which will be issued on the Dutton Epoch label, will also include Cellier’s Suite Symphonique of 1878, the final movement of which was used at the overture to The Mountebanks during its professional run. This will be a world première professional complete recording - the only known previous ones are a couple of military band selections in 78rpm days.

The recording will make use of the full score and orchestral parts prepared from the autograph by our Librarian Robin Gordon-Powell and published by The Amber Ring. J. Donald Smith, the owner of Cellier’s autograph score, has made a generous contribution to help initiate the project. 

Although The Mountebanks is not a Sullivan work, our constitution permits us to promote the works of British composers contemporaneous with him and we have always sought to support important projects which relate to Sullivan's friends and contemporaries. So when an opportunity of this kind comes along, with seed funding available, but more needed to make the recording a reality, it would be quite wrong of us not to do our bit.

We feel sure that many members of the Sullivan Society, and friends of Sullivan in general, will wish to contribute to this important new recording of a major work by one of his closest colleagues, and with, of course, a libretto by his best-known collaborator. Donations of any size are welcome, and should be sent, please, to Elaine Richardson, Fuchsia Cottage, Colwich, Stafford ST17 0XE. or via the button below. Contributions by PayPal are welcome. Please make cheques payable to Sir Arthur Sullivan Society.

We are delighted that our complete recording of Sullivan's 1898 opera The Beauty Stone on Chandos, a companion to the Grammy-nominated Ivanhoe on the same label, has enjoyed critical and popular acclaim since its issue in November 2013.

Old Beauty Stone program