Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|William Schwenk Gilbert, Simon Phipps|
Gilbert & Sullivan: HMS Pinafore
Suffers only by comparison
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 09/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This immensely popular work appeared in an almost musically complete set in the days of acoustic 78 rpms, more complete on an electrically recorded 78 rpm, a monophonic LP, and then on four stereo versions, all of which are still available for purchase. Now being an operetta, "Pinafore" has spoken dialogue and two recordings include it: the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company production on London (now called Decca) 414 283-2 and a second one by the same company with a somewhat different cast. What ever you do, avoid the second one, also on Decca, that has a conductor named James Walker. The first one is conducted by G&S veteran Isidore Godfrey and is far superior. For once in a musical, the dialogue is as good as the lyrics (well, okay: "Guys & Dolls" comes close); but I wonder if you will want to hear it each time you play the CDs. And you cannot program the dialogue out, because Decca does not start a new track when the spoken words follow the music. Fortunately the singing and playing is superb, so this is a very good bet. On the other hand, the singing and playing on the New Sadler's Wells Opera version, conducted by Simon Phipps, is just as good. In fact, the Sir Joseph Porter is a non-traditional interpretation, singing as he does with a super-cultivated upperclass accent that is truly funny. Without the dialogue, the work is still spread over two CDs to make room for three different versions of the last bars of the Act II Finale. Unhappily so much of the same music is repeated each time, that I wonder why simply didn't play the final bars without all the lead in. At any rate, this is a very good choice if you can live without the dialogue. Look for this on the Jay label (CD JAY2 1324). Now we need a third hand! Every note of the music appears on a single CD on the Telarc label (CD-80374), this time with the Orchestra & Chorus of the Welsh National Opera under Sir Charles Mackerras. Some top-notch British opera stars are in the cast and the only tiny drawback is the somewhat leathery basso of the Dick Deadeye (performed by ex-D'Oyly Carte star Donald Adams). Without the dialogue, this has to be the best bargain of the three, so you can buy one for yourself and one as a gift for a friend. And this is important: it is the only one of the three sets that provides the text of all the words that are sung on the recording."
A performance that matches D'Oyly Carte standards
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 11/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The short-lived but rather innovative New Sadler's Wells Opera company, founded on the same principles as D'Oyly Carte, made two significant recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan during its stay in the limelight. The 2 operas in question were Ruddigore and Pinafore, as presented here. Along with their Ruddigore (also on TER and Jay) this Pinafore is able to reach the standards of D'Oyly Carte's fabulous 1960 performance and Sir Charles Mackerras's indispensible Telarc performance, yet there are some small quibbles that I will talk about later.In the cast, Nickolas Grace makes a funny and hilarious Ruler of the Queen's Navee. Because of the funny upperclass accent that shows off how snobbish he can be, he gives a certain edge to his character and a new insight I have never felt before. (What, never? Well, hardly ever!) The funniest part of his portrayal is his performance of his famous autobiographical song, and with its ridiculously fast tempi, it certainly encourages many a new listener to emulate him by sticking close to their desks and never going to sea. Gordon Sandison's characterisation of the gallant Captain is surely one of the best portrayals I have heard, because it shows that he fits the role as naturally as Jeffrey Skitch, Thomas Allen and Thomas Lawlor. Though he played the Boatswain in the well-produced Brent-Walker video, and Sir Joseph in the latest D'Oyly Carte recording, he fits the part of the captain best because his voide is too heavy and not dry enough for Sir Joseph and he does better justice to himself when he does the Captain, where his voide is most suited to the part. The two lovers are extremely romantic, and even Buttercup shows how fruity she is, despite the slight lack of colour. The only failiure of the cast is Thomas Lawlor's Dick Deadeye, because he fails to capture his villainous side. He is as humane as the eponymous title-character in the most popular G&S opera, and, like Sandison, he feels better suited to the part of the Captain, which is eloquently demonstrated in the 1971 D'Oyly Carte recording. The chorus is crisply disciplined as the orchestra, and Simon Phipps paces the music fluently, but at times the tempi is not quite right. And now to the complaints. Firstly, the recording is not as natural as you expect it to be, thus making most of the voices (except Grace and Sandison) and the orchestra sound artificial. In addition, there are orchestral problems, for though Simon Phipps elicits crisply-disciplined playing from the orchestra, there is a lack of richness in the orchestral sound that is more eminent in the D'Oyly Carte and Mackerras sets. The second complaint is about the inclusion of the Rule Britannia finale. I feel that while patriotism is one of the themes in the opera, it is not significant because it is totally eclipsed by the theme of love levelling all ranks (as shown in the bell trio, Never mind the why and wherefore.) Including Rule Brtannia at the end of the opera is totally unnecessary because there is enough patriotic sentiments in the first-act trio, A British tar is a soaring soul, and the Act 2 song, He is an Englishman. These two patriotic numbers in the opera emphasise the theme well, and Rule Britannia will not be significant in this respect. As compensation, two version of the Act 2 finale are included, one with the familiar ending used in the overture and the Act 1 finale, and the other (more acceptable one) with the original ending that features brass chords based on Sir Joseph's motif and string tremolos to show the unity of social classes through love, ending with chords from the whole orchestra with timpani backing.Overall, while I don't consider this to be a first choice for a superlative-quality recording of the opera, it will be sure to find a happy home in any G&S library, and sit comfortably alongside other recordings of Pinafore, including the three 2 Decca and TER D'Oyly Carte versions, the EMI Sargent/Glyndebourne set and the indispensible Telarc Mackerras recording."
Nice to have all the endings
Brett Farrell | Cape May, NJ USA | 03/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this cd though I don't believe the New Saddler Wells Opera Co. did as good a job on this one as they did on Ruddigore. But i still feel it was excellent and worth any G&S fan worth buying just to have all the alternative endings that come with it."