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2003 (1) - Marquis de Mince Pie

The Marquis de Mince-Pie and Other Delights



Recital of Songs by Sirt Arthur Sullivan

Accompanist: Graeme Burnham
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Kevin Kelley
Rachel Buckley
Jannine Evans
Martin Wright
William Bamford


"Morn, Happy Morn" from Olivia
"The Marquis de Mice-Pie" from The Miller and His Man
"The Bride from the North"
"You Sleep"
"Let Me Dream Again"
Five Shakespeare Songs
"The Absent Minded Beggar"
"Bid Me at Least Goodbye" from An Old Jew
"Old Love Letters"
"Once Again"
"The Lost Chord"
"Over the Roof" from The Sapphire Necklace
"The Long Day Closes"
"In a Contemplative Fashion" from The Gondoliers

a review by Jamie Moffat
The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria took an important step forward on Sunday, February 2 with its presentation of The Marquis de Mince-Pie and Other Delights. This recital of songs by Sir Arthur Sullivan proved not only diverting but revelatory.

Sullivan's songs, like so much of his 'serious' music, have been largely consigned to the footnotes of history. Scholars may sniff at their blatantly commercial origins but that should not detract from their validity. As this recital amply proved, these are works of great worth.

But it is not merely from a musical aspect that this recital proved valuable. It also gave a rare insight into the lost art of domestic musical soirees. Long ago consigned to the scrap heap by the advent of technology such as recordings and television, it is nevertheless a compelling way to spend an afternoon. What may have initially seemed merely quaint emerged as an entirely valid form of entertainment.

Mercifully no attempt was made to camp up the performance with period costume and outdated social convention. The whole affair was handled with taste and restraint, as it should have been. The songs were allowed to speak for themselves, with no unnecessary attempts to place them into context.

It was also a huge advantage to be held at "The Knowe" at Sassafras - just the right distance from city life and where the nineteenth and twenty first centuries mingle with ease.

The concert party comprised five vocalists, with Graeme Burnham accompanying on piano. Most of the singers were familiar from Society performances in the past. But before considering their individual contributions, due compliment must be paid to their teamwork. Both in terms of voice and personality, their interaction could not have been bettered.

Kevin Kelley was an obvious standout, his large and vigorous voice making a huge impact in The Absent Minded Beggar and the inevitable Lost Chord. Kelley is clearly a major asset to the Society. Lovely as ever, Rachel Buckley proved that she does not need to impersonate a Gilbert heroine to dispense her easy charm. Her voice seems to have gained in freedom and ease in recent times. Orpheus With His Lute was a delight, and she made some haunting effects in The Bride of the North.

Jannine Evans is that rarest of creatures, a mezzo soprano completely comfortable throughout her range. Her Willow Song, part of a bracket of five Shakespeare Songs, was another highlight. Clearly she is a performer of enormous promise. Martin Wright has advanced significantly since I last heard him, the voice now pleasingly full and steady. His slightly aloof persona contrasted nicely with his colleagues; moreover he has an obvious and admirable affinity with Sullivan's style.

Suffering from a cold, William Bamford did not do himself full justice, but sang with great authority, beautiful diction and exemplary phrasing. Graeme Burnham's accompaniments were sensitive, considered and made their impression without being intrusive.

The fluctuating standards of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society have been a source of considerable concern in recent years. This recital, however, revealed an attention to detail and preparation that is nothing if not encouraging.

Let us hope that the Society now maintains this momentum. Let us further hope that affairs like this are to be continued, and that Gilbert is not left out of the equation. The stated aim of the Society is to promote the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, and this recital has proved that this can be achieved beyond the boundaries of fully staged productions.

On the whole The Marquis de Mince-Pie was an undoubted triumph for the Society and points hopefully towards a bright future.