Sullivan's "Martyr of Antioch" was composed for the Leeds Festival in 1880 to a libretto adapted from Milman's poem by W.S. Gilbert. Perhaps not surprisingly, the piece has a somewhat operatic quality: the story is of a pagan priestess betrothed to the Roman governor of Antioch who converts to Christianity and is martyred for her faith, and after being vouchsafed a vision of Christ at the stake enters heaven on a top C to the general wonderment of all. It's a colourful and entertaining piece and, though less ambitious, arguably more successful than the better-known "Golden Legend". Gilbert's libretto is admirably crafted to play to Sullivan's strengths as a composer of picturesque and lyrical music and the dramatic passages, where the composer is less assured, are wisely kept brief. This recording is of a live performance at the 2000 Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton but no apology needs to be made for the sound. Conductor Richard Balcombe keeps things moving, maybe too much so in the final scene, but on the whole with a good feel for the character of the music; the soloists are generally fine (Gillian Knight stands out as a Truly Fruity contralto of the type that Sullivan's music demands but rarely gets) and the orchestra brings out the vigour and richness of Sullivan's scoring. It is a shame, therefore, that the chorus (a scratch group) is utterly inadequate -- when the orchestra gets going you can't hear them, and when you can hear them you wish you couldn't. What a pity Ronald Corp and his London Chorus didn't get to this piece first -- until they do, this can be recommended with reservations to Sullivanophiles and devotees of the byways of English choral music.