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Cat. No. CHAN 10321 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10321 - Sullivan: Cox and Box/ Trial by Jury
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Available From: 15 June 2005
The libretto of Cox and Box was an adaptation of Maddison Morton’s popular farce Box and Cox by the editor of Punch, Francis Burnard. Sullivan wrote the music and the piece received its first performance – in a benefit matinée at the Adelphi Theatre – in May 1866.The proposal to present Cox and Box in a professional run came from impresario Thomas German Reed, and the work entered the repertory of his Regent Street theatre in March 1869. Interestingly, another name on the first-night programme was W. S. Gilbert, whose show was also opening. Cox and Box did well, and gained further popularity from a subsequent tour. Credit for bringing Sullivan and Gilbert into partnership for the first time goes to John Hollingshead, manager of the Gaiety Theatre. Needing a new musical piece for his 1871 Christmas season, he offered them work. The result was Thespis, a two-act burlesque on Greek mythology (the score of which is now lost).Although Thespis was well received, it did not lead Gilbert and Sullivan to plan any future collaboration. It was Richard D’Oyly Carte who brought the two men together again. Looking out for a short piece to put together with a production of Offenbach’s La Périchole, he agreed with Gilbert that the legal skit the author had developed from a little piece published in the magazine Fun in 1868 would fit the bill perfectly. D’Oyly Carte liked Trial by Jury and proposed that Sullivan should write the music. The work’s enormous success encouraged ambitious plans. Guided by D’Oyly Carte’s sure business hand, a company was formed to produce the joint works of Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, and from there the team went on to become one of the great theatrical partnerships.

Coupling the best-known of Sullivan’s pre-Gilbert operettas with the first of their collaborations produces a programme that is not only entertaining but also shows just how essential Gilbert’s verbal coruscations were in enabling his comic genius to take flight…The performances are equally sparkling. Donald Maxwell takes the Judge’s Song at a cracking pace yet sacrifices not a jot of comic effect, and Matthew Brook’s gloriously mangled pseudo-aristocratic vowels as Counsel for the Plaintiff are guaranteed to induce helpless mirth.
The Telegraph

Regular readers will be aware of my deep-seated aversion to G&S; but this column is a broad church, public-spirited enough for me to have sat through these two half-hour works and recognise that they are performed here with character and conviction enough to recommend warmly. Tenor James Gilchrist and baritone Neal Davies shine in this recording of ‘Cox and Box’, the first of its original orchestration with linking dialogue. They are joined by the delightful soprano Rebecca Evans and the Chamber Choir of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for a spirited version of ‘Trial by Jury’, led with authentic brio by Richard Hickox.
The Observer


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