One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU


Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Edward SOLOMON (1855-1895) and F. C. BURNAND (1836-1917)
Pickwick (1889) [55:00]
Simon Butteriss (baritone) - Mr Pickwick
Gaynor Keeble (mezzo-soprano) - Mrs Bardell
Toby Stafford-Allen (baritone) - The Baker
Alessandro MacKinnon (treble) - Tommy
George GROSSMITH (1847-1912)
Cups and Saucers (1876) [18:18]
Simon Butteriss (baritone) - General Deelah
Gaynor Keeble (mezzo-soprano) - Mrs Worcester
Stephen Higgins (Musical director/piano)
rec. 12-13 September 2016, National Opera Studio, Wandsworth, London
Full texts included

‘Burnand and Solomon’ doesn’t trip off the tongue quite as mellifluously or as automatically as Gilbert and Sullivan but this disc tells a tale of their collaboration on Pickwick, a Dramatic Cantata – as was Trial by Jury – that premiered in 1889. Francis Burnand (1836-1917), a habitual employer of the pun, was editor of Punch and had collaborated with Sullivan on Cox and Box and The Contrabandista. He had long theatrical experience and doubtless saw working with Solomon as an opportunity to extend the fame he had won as librettist.

Edward ‘Teddy’ Solomon, a ‘Jewish Don Juan’ according to a contemporary female critic, lived a life of almost irrepressible sexual activity, if his biography is anything to go by. It’s a miracle he ever found time to compose at all. Like another Solomon – not the Biblical one but Solomon Grundy – he lived life at an accelerated pace. He married at eighteen, had a child at nineteen and went through a succession of (five) wives, toured America, churned out operetta after operetta, was called on by D’Oyly Carte to compose for the Savoy, before dying at 39 of, so it’s said, typhoid. Even reading about his life is to court exhaustion.

Pickwick was one in a line of Dickens-inspired musical works. It is largely all-sung and has a relatively smaller quotient of spoken dialogue than Burnand’s other operettas. The original orchestral score is lost but a Boosey piano version was published. There were two editions and of these the first edition, faithful to the original production (the second edition was apparently simplified and reordered) has been followed.

At the keyboard is Stephen Higgins who supports and directs so well the singing company of four. The libretto is droll, witty and pun-laden in places and the music is avuncular, genial and occasionally stirring. It sits nicely in the mould of G&S operettas, though for all his musical diligence Solomon never quite manages to rise to the crest of a truly memorable song. There are songs, duets and trios, and much admirable scene setting and character building. Some of the finest moments reside in moments such as the music of the ‘Pickwickian Symphony’ where the hero’s appearance is accompanied by music of a deliciously pomposo nature. That said, surely it was a theatrical miscalculation for Burnand to have assigned three songs in a row to Pickwick. It tends to impede the forward development of the plot. That said there are delightful things here, such as the patter of The Happy Valley, where Simon Butteriss has a lot of fun with word endings and vowel sounds, the romantic reverie enshrined in Is it a Fairy Vision, sung very well by Gaynor Keeble, as well as the parlando wit throughout. The contribution here of Toby Stafford-Allen as The Baker should on no account be overlooked, nor should the treble Alessandro MacKinnon.

There is a bonus in the form of George Grosssmith’s Cups and Saucers. Before he became an esteemed G&S performer Grossmith toured with the novelist Florence Marryatt performing sketches and recitations, an entertainment called Entre Nous. The finale was a miniature opera, the ‘Satirical Musical Sketch’, called Cups and Saucers and that’s what is performed in this recording, a two-hander for Butteriss and Keeble. With very slightly abridged spoken dialogue this performance preserves the merriment and sentiment of the music, with witty use of pauses, a sentimental farewell song, and some rather Schumannesque piano writing here and there. Despite the large amount of dialogue remaining, which may tire unsympathetic listeners, this is another resonant slice of musical life of the time.

The disc is stylishly presented in a gatefold with a most attractive and informative booklet containing full texts. It’s a pleasure to see so barely known a work as Pickwick promoted with such care and joie de vivre.

Jonathan Woolf



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger