Grossmith’s two main claims to fame were to co-author “The Diary of a Nobody” and to create most of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic roles. But he wrote and composed much on his own account 18 operettas, 600 songs and piano pieces and about 100 sketches. One of his “Humorous and Musical Recitals” was seen in around 1890 in Doncaster by the then Parish Church Organist who pasted the programme into his diary with the terse comment “All Rot!”. I suppose it is, but it is entertaining for all that. This CD includes extracts from his operettas and has “recitals” and various individual songs. Many are parodies of G & S, Irish songs, American gospel songs, Sullivan’s Lost Chord and so on; one or two, like My Lady Nature’s Little Joke, commissioned by the “Strand Musical Magazine”, are more serious.
Best known of all is See Me Dance the Polka, immortalised in Walton’s Facade. This CD is drawn from two cassettes of Grossmith’s music issued by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society in 1995-6. Leon Berger is well known as a Savoyard and his clear delivery and even clearer diction do well for these songs, while Selwyn Tillett is a sympathetic accompanist. The booklet is nicely presented and the CD, which is well recorded and affords generous measure, is generally very recommendable, though best listened to a few tracks at a time – and in most cases there is practically no pause between items. Phil