1948 Pinafore Sails Again--An Excellent Value!
Larry Cantrell | Vancouver, BC | 12/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the English D'Oyly Carte Company's 1948 go at HMS Pinafore. It was originally recorded in the old FFRR standard, and for its time has quite sumptuous mono sound, although some might find the voices placed a bit too much to the fore. The CD sound is good, only a little compressed by the standards of the DDD-era.Pinafore is much the shortest of the G&S full-length comic operas. Without dialogue, its 68 minutes of music fit comfortably on a single disk, overture and all.The value of this set (ignoring the remarkably low price) is the cast, the best that D'Oyly Carte has put on record. Martyn Green, as Sir Joseph Porter, was a fine singer, something his predecessor, Sir Henry Lytton conspicuously was not. He was also a fine comic actor, as opposed to his two immediate successors on records, Peter Pratt and John Reed, who were merely clowns. Leonard Osborne, a more than adequate singer, is surely the best G&S tenor-actor ever recorded. The rest of the cast of singer-actors are in good voice (save for a rather pushed high note from the soprano in "The Hours Creep on Apace".) Their diction is extraordinarily good, particularly considering the fairly brisk pace chosen by Conductor Godfrey.All D'Oyly Carte recordings are characterized by fine chorus work. On this disk, diction and rhythmic precision are outstanding even by the high standards of that venerable organization. To my ear, however, the chorus sounds a little smaller than those used in later versions, but that might be an artifact of the recording.The one real weakness of the set is in the slovenly documentation grudgingly supplied by Naxos. Biographies are provided for only three performers and those are jammed with error. No, Dear Naxos, Martyn Green DID NOT play the Mikado in the prewar movie of that comic opera. This slovenliness has been justly savaged by writers on the G&S websites.All in all--a great performance at a very attractive price."
Flawed, But I Love It
Theseus | US of A | 02/11/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"What a curious recording. I love it and I hate it.
Whoever or whatever is to blame, the sound is certainly...vintage. This means that one is forced to work very hard to catch the lyrics. If you're looking for your first *Pinafore*, don't get this one.
However, there's a lot of charm on display here. Martyn Green's Sir Joseph is an utter delight. Here we have an aristocrat who sounds so bored by the proceedings that be barely has the energy to keep up with the tempo. Brilliant. Leslie Rand as the Captain and Darrell Fancourt also distinguish themselves.
The musicality here is, at times, just sloppy. Singers out of step with singers; singers out of step with the orchestra; odd tempi; many a dramatic moment neglected. I felt like they were all required to record the whole thing in 3 hours and didn't have time for retakes.
Yet that is part of the brilliance of this recording. It is a breezy sort of sing-through by cast members who are wholly comfortable with the style of G&S and with their roles. In that way, it probably captures more of mid-century G&S in performance, than a carefully-crafted, lovingly engineered recording."