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Unlike the comedies on which Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated with W.S. Gilbert, The Beauty Stone is a light-hearted musical drama with clear character development and charming melodies: it shows where Sullivan was heading in the autumn of his career.

Premiered in 1898, two years before his death, it went down badly with a London public expecting something frothier, and has lain unheard ever since. Now, thanks to the discovery of Sullivan’s autograph score, it comes to life in this sparkling recording by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, conducted by Rory Macdonald, with a cast led by Toby Spence, Alan Opie, Rebecca Evans and Elin Manahan Thomas.

The medieval-mystery plot may be hokum, but there are enough scenes of musical depth to justify a reassessment.

Arthur Sullivan

The Beauty Stone

Rory Macdonald

(Chandos) 2 CDs

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