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BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST "Mr Kynaston's Famous Dance" WGS298CD

John Walsh published annual collections of country dances from 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 Kynaston's tunes, brought to the attention of Belshazzar's Feast by Andrew Shaw, organiser of Altrincham's Lemmings Reprieve social dance club.

Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin, whistle, vocals - although he doesn't sing on this one) got together as Belshazzar's Feast in 1995. Both have sound musical credentials, as this CD demonstrates. Sartin has been a professional singer at Oxford's Christ Church Cathedral and does session work. Hutchinson has spent most of his career in 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 let's not get into that debate!). In addition to the Kynaston contribution, there are three tunes from Gay's "The Beggar's 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.

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

Dave Tuxford

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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.