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CHAN 10794M
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CHAN 10794
(multiple CD Set)

Sullivan: The Beauty Stone

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2013

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2013


BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Rory Macdonald

Richard Suart

baritone - Nicholas

Stephen Gadd

baritone - Simon

Alan Opie

baritone - The Devil

David Stout

bass - Guntran

Sarah Maxted

mezzo-soprano - Isabeau

Madeleine Shaw

mezzo-soprano - Jacqueline

Catherine Wyn-Rogers

mezzo-soprano - Joan

Llio Evans

soprano - Barbe

Elin Manahan Thomas

soprano - Laine

Olivia Gomez

soprano - Loyse

Rebecca Evans

soprano - Saida

Toby Spence

tenor - Philip

BBC National Chorus of Wales


BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, Wales


Brian Pidgeon


Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 128:14
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The Beauty Stone (1897-98)

  An Original Romantic Musical Drama in Three Acts  
  Libretto by Arthur Wing Pinero (1855-1934) and Joseph Comyns Carr (1849-1916)  
1 Introduction. Allegro alla - Marcia 2:59
  Act I 54:15      
  Scene 1. The Weaver's Home  
2 1 Duet. Simon: 'Click, clack, click, clack' 3:13
  with Joan  
3 2 Chorus with Solos. Chorus: 'Hobble, hobble, now we've caught her' 1:41
  with Joan and Simon  
4 2A Semi-Chorus: 'Maidens and men of Mirlemont town' 1:41
5 3 Prayer. Laine: 'Dear Mary Mother, unto thee I bring' 3:36
6 4 Quartet. Simon: 'Who stands within?' 5:08
  with Joan, Devil, and Laine  
7 5 Recitative and Song. Devil: 'Since it dwelt in that rock 4:34
  whose hallowed crest' -  
  'I gave it away to a love-lorn maid' -  
8 5A Appearance of Laine. 0:15
9 5B After Devil's Song. Change of Scene. Moderato 1:17
  Scene 2. The Market-place  
10 6 Full Chorus. Maidens: 'The bells are ringing o'er Mirlemont town' - 2:34
11 Competitor's Friends: 'Maidens and men of Mirlemont town' 2:13
12 7 Duet. Jacqueline: 'May name is crazy Jacqueline' - 4:09
  with Devil  
13 7A Entrance of the Burgomaster and Crowd. Chorus: 'The bells 2:49
  are ringing o'er Mirlemont town'  
14 8 Scene. The Beauty Contest. Nicholas: 'Know ye all, 1:56
  both great and small' -  
  with Philip  
15 Loyse: 'I am Loyse from St Denis' - 3:13
  with Chorus, Saida, Philip, and Nicholas  
16 Isabeau: 'In the hills beyond Florenens' - 2:13
  with Chorus, Saida, Devil, Philip, and Nicholas  
17 Barbe: 'I am Barbe of Bovigny' 2:16
  with Chorus  
18 9 Finale of Act I. Chorus: 'Go, bring forth old 1:04
  Simon's daughter!' -  
19 Philip: 'By Our Lady, she is fair!' - 1:15
  with Chorus, Nicholas, and Saida  
20 Saida: 'Oh, turn thine eyes away' - 2:02
  with Philip and Chorus  
21 Saida: 'In vain ye plead, some magic spell 2:30
  enthralls him!' -  
  with Guntran, Devil, Chorus, Joan, Simon, and Philip  
22 Laine: 'I can but tell I knelt and prayed' 4:06
  with Philip, Chorus, then All  
  Act II 51:21      
  Scene 1. A Hall in the Castle  
23 10 Chorus of Knights and Dames. All: 'With cards and 2:22
  dice, and with wine and laughter'  
24 10A Melos. Andante 1:11
25 11 Scene. Chorus of Knights and Dames: 'Though she 2:07
  should dance' -  
26 Song. Saida: 'Safe in her island home, whose 5:44
  sloping glades' -  
  with Knights, Eastern Maidens, and Dames  
27 Knights: 'Nay, see ye not this maid is fair?' 2:18
  with Dames and Philip  
28 12 Duet. Philip: 'I love thee! I love thee!' 3:39
  with Laine  
29 13 Scene. Song. Guntran: 'I'll tell them what thou was 2:31
  when first I knew thee' -  
30 Philip: 'How say you? Shame! My sword! my sword!' - 1:16
  with Laine, Devil, and Saida  
31 Laine: 'Nay, wert thou more than all he said thou art' - 2:00
  with Philip  
32 Saida: 'She's gone! Love's hour has come at last!' - 2:07
  with Devil and Philip  
33 Guntran: 'Lords of Sirault, Velaines, and St Sauveur' 4:10
  with Three Lords, Philip, then All  
34 13A Change of Scene. Andante tranquillo 1:43
  Scene 2. The Weaver's Home  
35 14 Trio. Joan: 'Look yon - 'tis she! our little Laine!' 3:55
  with Laine and Simon  
36 15 Duet. Simon: 'I would see a maid who dwells in Zolden' 3:52
  with Joan  
37 16 Quintet. Devil: 'Haste thee! Haste thee!' 2:06
  with Laine, Joan, Saida, and Simon  
  Scene 3. Between the Castle and the North Gate  
38 17 Duet (with Dance). Jacqueline: 'Up and down' 4:25
  with Devil  
39 18 Finale of Act II. Guntran: 'There he stands, that lord ye knew' - 3:20
  with Chorus and Philip  
40 Laine: 'My lord!' 2:11
  with Philip, Joan, and Chorus  
  Act III 19:35      
  Scene 1. The Terrace of the Castle  
41 19 Introduction. Moderato con moto - 4:20
  Song. Laine: 'An hour agone 'twas the moon that shone'  
42 20 Song. Jacqueline: 'Why does thou sigh and moan?' 2:03
43 21 Recitative and Song. Saida: 'Mine, mine at last! Poor 3:23
  vanquished slave, begone!' -  
  'What laggard steed doth carry'  
44 22 Scene. Saida: 'So all is lost for ever! And 'twas thou' 2:31
  with Devil  
45 22A Change of Scene. Allegro vivace e agitato 0:35
  Scene 2. The Market-place  
46 23 Chorus and Dance. Chorus: 'O'er Mirlemont city the banners 2:02
  are flying' -  
47 23A Exit of Guntran and Crowd. Allegro moderato 0:49
48 24 Finale of Act III. Chorus: 'Hail to the lord of our land!' 4:50
  with Guntran, Joan, Laine, Simon, Jacqueline, Philip, Devil, then All  
 Toby Spence tenor - Philip
 David Stout bass - Guntran
 Stephen Gadd baritone - Simon
 Richard Suart baritone - Nicholas
 Alan Opie baritone - The Devil
 Elin Manahan Thomas soprano - Laine
 Catherine Wyn-Rogers mezzo-soprano - Joan
 Madeleine Shaw mezzo-soprano - Jacqueline
 Rebecca Evans soprano - Saida
 Olivia Gomez soprano - Loyse
 Sarah Maxted mezzo-soprano - Isabeau
 Llio Evans soprano - Barbe
  Peppin, a dwarf  
  Baldwyn of Ath  
  The Lords of Serault, Velaines, and St Sauveur  
  A Seneschal  
  A Lad of tthe Town  
  A Shrewish Girl  
  A Matron  
  Knights, Dames, Pages, Aldermen, Soldiers, Townsfolk, Country-folk, Dancers, Lute-players, Serving-men, and the rest  
  The story is laid in the Flemish town of Mirlemont in the beginning of the fifteenth century  
 Rory Macdonald
  29 January-3 February 2013  

Chandos CHAN 10794

Sullivan: The Beauty Stone – Elin Manahan Thomas, Toby Spence, Rebecca Evans, Alan Opie, Stephen Gadd, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Madeleine Shaw, David Stout, Richard Suart, BBC National Chorus of Wales, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rory Macdonald

Sir Arthur Sullivan is best known for his famous collaboration with W.S. Gilbert, a supreme partnership the fruits of which have tended to overshadow Sullivan’s other musical endeavours. The Beauty Stone falls into this latter category. A serious operatic work of epic duration, composed when Sullivan was at the height of his career, it was a surprising flop at its premiere in 1898, though it did have a run of fifty performances. The audience was expecting something more in the mould of the composer’s fleet and nimble comic operas, and was unprepared for a work of such size and seriousness. Sullivan and his librettists quickly made substantial cuts to the dialogue and the score, in the process removing some of the work’s most delightful music, but in this new recording all the omitted music has been restored. The strength of the opera is undoubtedly its many fine melodies, superb orchestration, and excellent characterisation, as well as a vivid atmosphere suitably suggestive of the romantically inflected mediaeval setting of the plot. This, the premiere commercial recording of the work, is cast with some of the finest singers on the British stage today and conducted by Rory Macdonald, one of Britain’s most talented, dynamic young conductors. This release follows the highly regarded recording of Sullivan’s Ivanhoe.

 “…In all, this is the best case that one could ever have hoped for on behalf of this neglected opera. That the music proves fully worthy of the effort is recommendation enough. Certainly, this should be explored by more than just the fans of the more normative Savoy canon.”

Ronald E Grames – Fanfare – May/June 2014

“...This recording puts the gorgeous score front and center with superb performances… The music is buoyant and joyous … Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas sings with winsome simplicity and purity as Laine, illuminating the character’s inner beauty with an almost saintly goodness…  the biggest joy comes from the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales under the direction of Rory Macdonald, which render Sullivan’s effervescent melodies with sheer, smile-inducing perfection.”

Joanne Sydney Lessner – Opera News magazine (USA) – August 2014  

                    *** (Good Album)             *** (Good Sound)

Dominique Joucken – Classica magazine (France) - April 2014      


 “…this is certainly one of Sullivan’s more attractive scores. With an excellent cast on hand, there is a great deal to enjoy here, in a candidate for my 2014 Want List. Highly recommended.”

Barry Brenesal – Fanfare – March/April 2014

                                Music *** (Good)         Sound **** (very Good)

Werner Pfister - Fono Forum magazine (Germany) - April 2014

“…There’s some lovely playing from the BBC NOW, particularly in the score’s more reflective moments. This release will please listeners far beyond the Sullivan Society, whose generosity enabled the recording to be made.”

Adrian Edwards – Gramophone magazine – January 2014

                     Performance ****          Recording ****

“…The recording and presentation are admirable …”

Geoff Brown – BBC Music magazine – January 2013

 "... The BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales are on great form, inspired by Rory Macdonald’s committed and idiomatic direction... it is an important work offering much to enjoy, deserving of this first-class advocacy. Chandos is to be thanked and congratulated on a very worthwhile and rewarding endeavour."

Graham Rogers - International Record Review - December 2013

"... the music proves it is well worth revial. This two-disc boxed set will be a Christmas must for the great company of Savoyards."

Peter Spaull - Liverpool Post - 28 November 2013

My thoughts on the piece and the recording are fundamentally that both are wonderful in their entirety. The alert and vigorous pacing of this new performance is just how I imagined it should be, having known the Prince Consort version for nearly thirty years: "O'er Mirlemont city", "With Cards and dice" and "Hobble, hobble" are here taken respectively fast, faster and even faster. The public scenes are given an appropriate sense of bustle, and the final sections of the Act 1/ Act 3 finales are thrilling. This is not to imply that anything is hurried over - Rory Macdonald is clearly someone who simply has dramatic blood in his veins and instinctively knows when the push on. I was also pleased that he does not take the entire Act 3 finale at crotchet=dotted crotchet, which the PC recording does (thus leaving Jacqueline with the most laboured plod). Chorus and orchestra alike are superb and the recording is slightly more forward than that given to "Ivanhoe". The soloists seem to have given perhaps more character and thought to their roles than (generally) those in the "Ivanhoe" recording. Rebecca Evans aptly portrays the sultry and exotic (though faded) charms of Saida with a breathy quality to her voice which contrasts well with the voices of the other female soloists; Toby Spence is refulgent and uses his voice cleverly to convey the opposing moods of Philip; and all the other principals are more than adequate to the task: Elin Manahan Thomas, in particular, is deeply affecting as Laine and has a most appropriate purity of tone (her Act 1 Prayer is a revelation). The integrity of the opera comes across in spades (bolstered by the extra exits, interludes and entries replete with musical quotes from elsewhere in the work, etc.) - it is so valuable that these various linking ('fitting') sections have been recorded. That these have been included (along with numbers cut after the opening night) is due to the production of a brand new full orchestral score prepared directly from Sullivan's autograph by Robin Gordon-Powell of the Arthur Sullivan Society. For anybody who is used to the 1984 Prince Consort recording, the opening duet for Joan and Simon will bring a surprise - three "Click-clack"s at the beginning of each verse, rather than two as printed in the 1898 Chappell vocal score. I contacted Robin to query this and there are indeed three in Sullivan's autograph score. Altogether, a wonderful release in every respect with excellent booklet essays and illustrations from the original production. This deserves every accolade and will, hopefully lead to the first professional recordings of other major Sullivan works, particularly the oratorio "The Light of the World" (1873) and the sacred musical drama "The Martyr of Antioch" (1880).
M Sands