John Playford's Secret Ball

by Belshazzar's Feast

This album is a celebration of the 350th anniversary of the first edition of John Playfords The English Dancing Master. Most of the tunes are from this edition and there are also a few corkers from later editions. Belshazzars Feast consists of virtuoso accordion player, Paul Hutchinson, formerly of the Old Pull and Push Band, and the talented classically trained singer and multi-instrumentalist, Paul Sartin. Belshazzars are joined by bassoon, trumpet and English concertina, providing an amazingly rich, subtle and varied tapestry of musical textures and arrangements.



Maiden Lane
Sample not available
Parsons Farewell
Sample not available
Goddesses
Sample not available
The Garland
Sample not available
Mundesse
Sample not available
Bobbing Joe
Sample not available
Jennie Pluck Pears
Sample not available
Cuckolds All a Row
Sample not available
The Fits Come on Me Now
Sample not available
London Gentlewomen
Sample not available
The Maid Peeped Out at the Window
Sample not available
Parson Upon Dorothy
Sample not available
Gathering Peascods
Sample not available
The Old Mole
Sample not available

BBC Website

Kit Bailey

I must admit that I was a bit lazy when I first put this CD on - initially I thought that it wasn't going to make much of an impression. Ironically, I think this may have been because I'd enjoyed Belshazzar's Feast so much live at Sidmouth and was unsure how they would translate onto CD. It was a strange gig in itself, as Paul Sartin was unavoidably late so we had Belshazzar's Snack for a while in the shape of a solo Paul Hutchinson. He held his own admirably with some really lovely piano accordion playing as well as some very funny asides. When Paul S did finally arrive it was then that I realized what the act was all about and they put on a really delightful concert that had the audience giggling at some very slick onstage banter. They are genuinely funny on stage but this isn't the only thing you remember them for because they are both excellent musicians.

For this CD - their fourth - they've drafted in friends Robert Harbron, who plays with Paul S in Dr Faustus and William Balkwill on trumpet, both fine additions to the overall sound - particularly Rob's English concertina on Mundesse. They both contribute some lovely playing, adding guitar, mandolin and bassoon as well, but it is the two Pauls (Sartin on oboe and violin (or is it a fiddle?), Hutchinson on piano accordion) that shine through at the end of the day.

Playford's tunes are recognizably wonderful and they've put together some great arrangements of them: rich, full and driving like the opener, Maiden Lane; sparse and forceful as on the fiddle piece The Maid Peeped Out at the Window; intricate concertina/accordion duets (Parson Upon Dorothy); a wonderful smooth and stately Gathering Peascods using all the wind/reed instruments to full effect.  1651 have also released a CD of Playford tunes, but you couldn't get two more different renditions of the same composer. Where 1651 has explored all the underlying darkness in Playford's compositions, Belshazzar's Feast has brought out all the bright, joyful sides of them, which suits the personalities of the two Pauls well. Both are albums worth having - Playford to suit your mood!

There are other duos that play this style of music, which may account for the initial sense of familiarity, but it doesn't take long for that to be challenged.  What does it for me in particular is Paul Sartin's oboe playing. When he floats a melody over the top on the oboe, as on Parson's Farewell, it really is a beautiful thing. This album will be enjoyed by Playford enthusiasts, people who enjoy a damn good tune and lovers of virtuoso playing whatever the type of music. Seeing Belshazzar's Feast live will increase your enjoyment of this CD and if you've only heard the CD, you'll have at least 70% of an idea of what to expect when you see them live. Even if you don't get the jokes, you'll love the music!

Dirty Linen

LDP

The U.K. group Belshazzars Feast has issued this collection of English dance tunes from John Playfords The English Dancing Master to celebrate the anniversary of the books publication. The 14 songs include Jenny Pluck Pears, Gathering Peascods, and the like. The instrumentation is based on the piano accordion of Paul Hutchison with a mix of oboe, concertina, bassoon, and trumpet ? the brass is a nice touch. There is also a hidden track that wittily starts and concludes with a sound like a vinyl LP playing ? as a lost treasure might.  

FolkWrite

Chris Beaumont

Two albums that could perhaps be described as English mock?baroque, since both have the rhythm and flair to suit the current dance scene, whilst at the same time taking much of their material and playing inspiration from music of the 17th and 18th centuries ? that time before the arrival of such innovations as the polka and the waltz. Both CDs also happen to feature the combination of fiddle and piano?accordion fairly prominently. The piano box is not, of course, a baroque instrument and I must confess my heart sinks sometimes when I come across rather lugubrious versions of Playford tunes by bands fronted by some huge 180?bass monsterl No such problems here, however, as both accordions are in the hands of wonderfully skilful players whose nimble and imaginative playing is a delight. Boxer number one (she also plays piano on a couple of tracks) is Becky Price, also to be found in the band Finality Jack. Here she is paired with the fiddle and 5?string fiddle of Blowzabellist Dave Shepherd. Their selection of tunes includes a number from the 18th and early 19th centuries, a couple of song tunes and three or four of their own compositions. While there are some quite complex arrangements, with a distinctly baroque feel, this is essentially an album of dance music, full of wit and rhythm. Much the same could be said of the offering from Belshazzars Feast: the box person is Paul Hutchinson, while Paul Sartin is on fiddle and oboe. Robert Harbron adds English concertina, guitar, mandolin and bassoon and William Balkwill plays trumpet. The concept is a celebration of the 350th anniversary of the first edition of John Flayfords English Dancing Master, and most of the tunes are taken from this, with just three coming from later editions. Many titles will probably be familiar to dancers and musicians: Parsons Farewell, Jenny Pluck Pears, Cuckolds All In A Row, Gathering Peascods and others. If you like your Playford lively and dynamic, so that it really has to be danced to, give this a try. Interestingly, there are moments on both these albums that remind me of Michael Nymans score for The Draughtsmans Contract, a classic piece of pseudo-baroquery; perhaps he ought to start playing for





Folk on Tap

PHu

Belshazzars Feast have hit the nail on the head with this CD which too is a celebration of Playfords original tome. Here the four musicians, Paul Hutchinson, Paul Sartin, Robert Harbron and William Balkwill have combined to great effect, producing an album that Im sure would have had Playford himself dancing with delight. They have taken most of their tunes from the original 1651 edition but have included a few others too from later volumes. Some may be familiar, all are eminently listenable and may even be danceable (the band themselves express doubt about the latter). One thing is for certain the combination of fiddle, oboe, bassoon, accordion and trumpet certainly give the tunes an authentic feel and as a consequence, the respect they deserve. A winner all the way!

BBC Website

Kit Bailey

I must admit that I was a bit lazy when I first put this CD on - initially I thought that it wasn't going to make much of an impression. Ironically, I think this may have been because I'd enjoyed Belshazzar's Feast so much live at Sidmouth and was unsure how they would translate onto CD. It was a strange gig in itself, as Paul Sartin was unavoidably late so we had Belshazzar's Snack for a while in the shape of a solo Paul Hutchinson. He held his own admirably with some really lovely piano accordion playing as well as some very funny asides. When Paul S did finally arrive it was then that I realized what the act was all about and they put on a really delightful concert that had the audience giggling at some very slick onstage banter. They are genuinely funny on stage but this isn't the only thing you remember them for because they are both excellent musicians.

For this CD - their fourth - they've drafted in friends Robert Harbron, who plays with Paul S in Dr Faustus and William Balkwill on trumpet, both fine additions to the overall sound - particularly Rob's English concertina on Mundesse. They both contribute some lovely playing, adding guitar, mandolin and bassoon as well, but it is the two Pauls (Sartin on oboe and violin (or is it a fiddle?), Hutchinson on piano accordion) that shine through at the end of the day.

Playford's tunes are recognizably wonderful and they've put together some great arrangements of them: rich, full and driving like the opener, Maiden Lane; sparse and forceful as on the fiddle piece The Maid Peeped Out at the Window; intricate concertina/accordion duets (Parson Upon Dorothy); a wonderful smooth and stately Gathering Peascods using all the wind/reed instruments to full effect.  1651 have also released a CD of Playford tunes, but you couldn't get two more different renditions of the same composer. Where 1651 has explored all the underlying darkness in Playford's compositions, Belshazzar's Feast has brought out all the bright, joyful sides of them, which suits the personalities of the two Pauls well. Both are albums worth having - Playford to suit your mood!

There are other duos that play this style of music, which may account for the initial sense of familiarity, but it doesn't take long for that to be challenged.  What does it for me in particular is Paul Sartin's oboe playing. When he floats a melody over the top on the oboe, as on Parson's Farewell, it really is a beautiful thing. This album will be enjoyed by Playford enthusiasts, people who enjoy a damn good tune and lovers of virtuoso playing whatever the type of music. Seeing Belshazzar's Feast live will increase your enjoyment of this CD and if you've only heard the CD, you'll have at least 70% of an idea of what to expect when you see them live. Even if you don't get the jokes, you'll love the music!

Dirty Linen

LDP

The U.K. group Belshazzars Feast has issued this collection of English dance tunes from John Playfords The English Dancing Master to celebrate the anniversary of the books publication. The 14 songs include Jenny Pluck Pears, Gathering Peascods, and the like. The instrumentation is based on the piano accordion of Paul Hutchison with a mix of oboe, concertina, bassoon, and trumpet ? the brass is a nice touch. There is also a hidden track that wittily starts and concludes with a sound like a vinyl LP playing ? as a lost treasure might.  

FolkWrite

Chris Beaumont

Two albums that could perhaps be described as English mock?baroque, since both have the rhythm and flair to suit the current dance scene, whilst at the same time taking much of their material and playing inspiration from music of the 17th and 18th centuries ? that time before the arrival of such innovations as the polka and the waltz. Both CDs also happen to feature the combination of fiddle and piano?accordion fairly prominently. The piano box is not, of course, a baroque instrument and I must confess my heart sinks sometimes when I come across rather lugubrious versions of Playford tunes by bands fronted by some huge 180?bass monsterl No such problems here, however, as both accordions are in the hands of wonderfully skilful players whose nimble and imaginative playing is a delight. Boxer number one (she also plays piano on a couple of tracks) is Becky Price, also to be found in the band Finality Jack. Here she is paired with the fiddle and 5?string fiddle of Blowzabellist Dave Shepherd. Their selection of tunes includes a number from the 18th and early 19th centuries, a couple of song tunes and three or four of their own compositions. While there are some quite complex arrangements, with a distinctly baroque feel, this is essentially an album of dance music, full of wit and rhythm. Much the same could be said of the offering from Belshazzars Feast: the box person is Paul Hutchinson, while Paul Sartin is on fiddle and oboe. Robert Harbron adds English concertina, guitar, mandolin and bassoon and William Balkwill plays trumpet. The concept is a celebration of the 350th anniversary of the first edition of John Flayfords English Dancing Master, and most of the tunes are taken from this, with just three coming from later editions. Many titles will probably be familiar to dancers and musicians: Parsons Farewell, Jenny Pluck Pears, Cuckolds All In A Row, Gathering Peascods and others. If you like your Playford lively and dynamic, so that it really has to be danced to, give this a try. Interestingly, there are moments on both these albums that remind me of Michael Nymans score for The Draughtsmans Contract, a classic piece of pseudo-baroquery; perhaps he ought to start playing for





Folk on Tap

PHu

Belshazzars Feast have hit the nail on the head with this CD which too is a celebration of Playfords original tome. Here the four musicians, Paul Hutchinson, Paul Sartin, Robert Harbron and William Balkwill have combined to great effect, producing an album that Im sure would have had Playford himself dancing with delight. They have taken most of their tunes from the original 1651 edition but have included a few others too from later volumes. Some may be familiar, all are eminently listenable and may even be danceable (the band themselves express doubt about the latter). One thing is for certain the combination of fiddle, oboe, bassoon, accordion and trumpet certainly give the tunes an authentic feel and as a consequence, the respect they deserve. A winner all the way!