Drop the Reed

by Belshazzar's Feast

English, French & new tunes and songs from virtuosic duo on accordion, fiddle and oboe.



By request, this album features only Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson and was recorded as a faithful reproduction of their increasingly popular live work. The album is entitled Drop the Reed and will go a long way to enhance the increasing reputation of the duo.

The May Reels
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Half Hannikin/The Recruiting Officer
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The Miller of Dee/La Belle Jardiniere/Ebenezer
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La Petite Nette/Fransk Morgenstjerne
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Ffarwell Ned Pugh/Mae Mwhn Dwedyd
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Mister Costa/Beggars Roost
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Auvergne Polka/Cafouilee
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Four Babies Rants
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Twenty Eighteen
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Air
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Brouillard/Les Cloches
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Living Tradition

Clive Pownceby

An aptly named duo, with a veritable musical banquet to satisfy but never sate the palate of the discerning listener. These diners are Paul Sartin on oboe, voice and violin (not fiddle youll understand!) and Paul Hutchinson, accordion, who first got together in the Autumn of 1995. Their diverse tastes and involvements result in an eclectic range of influences from Playford, through French Polkas, Welsh hymn tunes to own compositions and Music Hall songs. Sartins main day job is with the Cathedral Choir of Christ Church, Oxford, although theatre and Channel 4 commissions keep him busy too, whilst his companion has worked in opera and is part of up?and?comers Hoover the Dog.

Implicitly there could be a somewhat academic approach in evidence which might deter some, but those who persevere with this record will find someting of real worth. A charmingly impish invention abounds and theres no abstract fustiness. Instead the atmosphere is one of heartfelt, beautifully textured music (only 2 vocal tracks - The Miller of Dee and Twenty, Eighteen) reminiscent at box/oboe times of Albion Country Band circa Battle of the Field.

Assuredly then, theres plenty to get excited about here from the 2 May Reels which lead off the CD, through to the stately Brouillard/Les Cloches set from the Massif Central which closes. Free?ranging without being overindulgent, this is folk music as nouvelle cuisine rather than Sunday roast blow-out!



Shreds and Patches

Phil Headford

In a CD of 11 generous tracks, Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinsort give an object lesson to all recording artists on the standard of technique and artistry required to migrate from dance?band playing to concert performance. I dont say there are no bouncy, danceable tunes here ?there are many ? but this is going to be the kind of album you will want to play when you need cheering up, or when you want to relax. (If you want to dance to Paul & Pauls music, track down their 5?piece, Bazzas Dog.)

Half Hannikin must be four centuries old, but comes across as fresh as daisy, and Paul Ss fiddle is, as on all tracks, clear and confident, and its companion on track three The Recruiting Officer has him demonstrating the same virtues on oboe. Paul Hs supportive and sensitive accordion work is a model for all. who may labour under the illusion that accompaniment is a poor relation of solo work.

Thats not even my favourite track! Paul H chooses his instruments and stop settings carefully throughout, and Paul S makes unerring judgement on choice of instrument or voice. Some folky purists may be inclined at first hearing to dismiss Paul Ss vocal style, but the sheer quality serves to remind me what high standards are required to work daily with the Cathedral choir of Christ Church, Oxford.

The cover design is good, the notes are informative and the photos are clear. The selection of tunes and styles is catholic given limits of Western Europe, folk or classical or homemade some time in the last five or so centuries.

I can assure those of you with a wide taste in music, but a tight discernment of quality that the acquisition of this CD will never be regretted.



Traditional Music Maker

Phil Bird

Since Belshazzars Feast formed in 1995 they have performed at concert venues ranging from the Southbank, major festivals, to small village halls both here and abroad. They have also done television and radio, as well as fulfilling

commitments to other bands and contributing to a number of other artist album projects.

1 first came across them playing a Ceilidh at Sidmouth Festival in l 997, where the charm and feel good quality of the music had everyone dancing until knackered ? well at least 1 was. Just before Christmas Wild Goose Records held a CD launch for Drop the Reed at the Fir Tree Tavern, one of Oxfords best and friendliest trad music venues. Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson, who are the aforementioned duo, played a great live unplugged set to a packed house. The impromptu invasion of merry carol singers at some point in the proceedings only enhanced the already festive atmosphere and raised the gathering to new heights of musical camaraderie and caroling.

Drop the Reed is an elegant and classy album. Whereas One Too Many, their first release, enlisted the talents of various notable musical accomplices, the new album takes a different route. It aims to present a live approach, more in keeping with the duos performance style. To this end producer Mark Powell (who has worked for many leading folk artists including Fairport Convention and Steve Ashley) has kept the production value simple, givinq, the album a very warm acoustic natural feel.

Drop the Reed is a collection of carefully chosen traditional music and some beautiful composition from Paul Sartin. The flavours and textures of the CD are, rooted in a variety of European contexts, with stuff from England, Wales via the Bodleian Library, Denmark and the Massive Central Tune Book 2. This is well in keeping with the two Pauls eclectic live set, which has over the years included 18th century Playford tunes, Scandinavian waltzes, Music Hall songs and self penned work. An unerring quality of virtuoso musicianship and skill in interpreting and arranging, holds this diverse collection together.

Paul Hutchinson, who in another guise plays for the acclaimed. country rock group Ida Red, is here engaged in the deceptively rela xed approach to his accordion playing, which makes it sound almost effortless, yet the timing between the two musicians feels intuitive and spot on.

Paul Sartin is a virtuoso on violin and oboe, he makes these instruments really sing and cover a wide range of expressions and mood, from lyrical, light and jaunty, through to reflective, sad and soulful tone colours. On the album compare Pauls twooriginal compositions Air with its meditative and melancholy slow progression and Miste Costa which he describes in the sleeve notes as a big hairy tune for a big hairy friend. Paul also provides the vocals for the two songs on the album. Twenty Eighteen is a trad song from Norfolk found in Broadwood and Fullers English Country Songs and The Miller of Dee he remembers hearing as a child from his mother. Pauls voice has a classical range and edge, not surprising considering his commitment to the Choir of Christchurch, Oxford which has led to work being featured on Channel 4s The Choir and soundtracks for Mr Bean and The Vicar of Dibley.

Together these two players present a very complete, rich menu of musical delights to inspire and entertain you. The fusion of classical and traditional folk sensibilities works exceedingly well. In short ? a CD of some distinction from a quality outfit. Buy it, lend it only to those you would give your last Rolo. Above all, get to see these blokes play live. Unmissable!