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Elaine Bradtke of EDS

reviews The Food of Love by Belshazzar's Feast

One glance at the cover and the listener should know what to expect within. This is a two CD set: The Main Course was recorded in the studio, The Complimentary Appetiser recorded live at an undisclosed location. Sartin sings, plays the oboe, violin and whistle, meanwhile Hutchinson does his best to imitate an entire orchestra with his piano accordion. Their music is a salad of classical and folk influences, seasoned with humour. The studio recording is what you’d expect if you’ve heard their previous work. Indeed, some of the melodies have appeared on earlier CDs. They follow a recipe of elegant arrangements and seamless transitions to produce a well-balanced and beautifully executed selection of tunes and songs, flavoured with a piquant dash of zaniness. Tracks include a handful of dance tunes from the Playford canon, and several songs from Sartin’s ancestor, Edith Sartin.
This recording is a feast for the ears. Listen to the richly melancholic beginning of ‘La Belle Jardiniere/Ebenezer’ (the entrance of the swanee whistle does lighten the mood a bit) or the evocative theme music from the film Cal. Things drift towards the absurd around track five of the studio disc. ‘Rondo a la Turkey’ is a madcap medley of Mozart and a minor version of ‘Turkey in the Straw’. They have an uncanny knack for blending disparate melodies in unanticipated ways. This is exploited to an unbelievable degree on the live disc, where musical jokes and extracts of popular melodies are tossed into the mix at an intoxicating rate. ‘Tommy Jenkins/Hunt the Squirrel’ is full of musical references and antics, which happily bears repeated listening. Downright silly they may be at times, but they have the skill to pull it off.