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Dave Tuxford of Living Tradition

reviews Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance Vol 1&2 by Belshazzar's Feast

John Walsh published annual collections of country dances form 1705, and his son John continued the series until his own death in 1766. Five of the surviving volumes contain 120 dances by Nathaniel Kynaston, about whom little is known other than that he possibly had connections with the Shropshire/Wales border country and was a composer of some skill. This CD contains nine of Mr Kynastons tunes, brought to the attention of Belshazzars Feast by Andrew Shaw, organiser of Altrinchams Lemmings Reprieve social dance club.

Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin, whistle, vocals - although he doesnt sing on this one) got together as Belshazzars Feast in 1995. Both have sound musical credentials, as this CD demonstrates. Sartin has been a professional singer at Oxfords Christ Church Cathedral and does session work. Hutchinson has spent most of his career on folk-oriented outfits and was a founder-member of Irish band IQ40. Two previous albums,  One Too Many and Drop the Reed, won critical approbation and comparison with the Albion Band in country dance mode, drawing on a variety of traditions.

Mr Kynaston, in contrast, draws entirely on the English tradition (insofar as any tune whose composer is known can be considered traditional - but lets not get into that debate!). In addition to the Kynaston contribution, there are three tunes from Gays The Beggars Opera. The sleeve note describes the tunes as magnificent, as they are (and performed equally magnificently by the two Pauls), echoing down the generations and effortlessly evoking visions of dancers long since elevated to that great celestial longway set.

Its easy to see why Belshazzars Feast are in such demand both in the UK and abroad. They have done country dance a considerable service by so ably ressurecting this material. They can play for my Playford any time.