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Clive Pownceby of Living Tradition

reviews Drop the Reed by Belshazzar's Feast

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!