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PERFORMING ARTS | Recordings

** SULLIVAN, Symphony in E, "In Memoriam," Suite from "The Tempest" BBC Philharmonic; Richard Hickox, conductor, Chandos Records

April 15, 2001|JOHN HENKEN

As every Gilbert and Sullivan fan knows, Arthur Sullivan-the musical half of the team-fretted obsessively that he was wasting his talent on comic opera. A doting British musical establishment encouraged the feeling, hailing him as the next Mendelssohn on the basis of orchestral pieces such as these, composed in the 1860s before Sullivan began his theater work. On the other hand, if you already have genuine Mendelssohn symphonies, overtures and incidental music, you may not feel an urgent need for these skilled, sincere imitations. This is rarely heard music (at least in this country) that sounds instantly and forgettably familiar. Hickox and his BBC band deliver lively performances, particularly alert in revealing Sullivan's deft woodwind detailing, in clear and spacious sound.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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