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Review of the Crystal Palace performance from The Times
Monday, November 14, 1864

Mr. A. S. Sullivan’s new cantata was lately described at length in the notices of the Birmingham Festival. Though certainly not equal to his Tempest music, it has the merit of owing very little, if anything, to that arch seducer, Mendelssohn, the fascination of whose manner and way of working few young aspiring composers of recent years know how to resist. For this reason, if no other, Kenilworth may be regarded as a step onward in Mr. Sullivan’s career. The music, being as fresh and tuneful as it is unpretending, and in some places – instance the scene from The Merchant of Venice – rising to a certain poetic beauty, by no means loses on closer acquaintance.

The greatest pains had been taken in rehearsing the cantata, and on the whole the performance was more uniformly satisfactory than at Birmingham. Perhaps the work is better suited to a comparatively small band and chorus than to the colossal vocal and instrumental forces assembled by Mr. Costa at the great mid-England music meeting. The chorus (about 100 strong) were highly efficient; the solo singers – Miss Banks (soprano), Miss Emma Heywood (contralto), Mr. Cummings (tenor), and Mr. Santley (bass) – the last two the originals at Birmingham – were all that could be wished; and the audience testified their satisfaction by repeated applause. In a word, Kenilworth at the Crystal Palace achieved a genuine and honourable success, and credit is due to Herr Manns alike for the spirit which prompted him to bring it forward and the pains he took to do it every justice.

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