The Best Mikado -- Really
Aronne | 12/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is, unlike Amazon's link to the CD Format version suggests, not the 1950 Martyn Green recording with Isidore Godfrey conducting. This is the Godfrey's 1957 D'Oyly Carte recording in all its splendor -- well, not ALL its splendor, as this MP3 download comes only in acceptable Mono, whereas the original recording was made in full-fledged Stereo.
The cast is wonderful in every way:
The Mikado - Donald Adams (his first recording in a major role, and a very fine one)
Nanki-Poo - Thomas Round (a excellent tenor who incidentally just celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary)
Ko-Ko - Peter Pratt (Martyn Green's forgotten, underrated successor)
Pooh-Bah - Kenneth Sandford (much fresher than in his 1973 traversal of the same role)
Pish-Tush - Alan Styler (I love Alan Styler's voice; it's unique in the best sense)
Go-To - Owen Grundy
Yum-Yum - Jean Hindmarsh (lovely voice and quite comfortable in "The sun whose rays")
Pitti-Sing - Beryl Dixon (a characterful singer at her best here, even though she never played P-S on stage)
Peep-Bo - Jennifer Toye
Katisha - Ann Drummond-Grant (plays a very human Katisha, one of her few recordings in a role she played on stage)
"Peter Pratt as Ko-Ko?" You may say, "But I want John Reed!" Go ahead, buy the dreadful 1973 recording if you really want to (Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado). But for a fraction of the cost, this recording is available as a much more pleasant recollection of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Companies abilities. Peter Pratt won't have the universal appeal that John Reed had in the patter roles, but I rather like his Ko-Ko. Godfrey gives him the quickest tempo I've heard for the List Song, and it works very well.
Donald Adams is an excellent Mikado -- a pity there is a transfer error in the second verse of his song. Thomas Round is amazing-wonderful-perfect as Nanki-Poo. His contribution to "Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted" is the best I've heard (and I own five complete Mikados, and have heard three others through my library). He is matched well by Jean Hindmarsh's Yum-Yum.
The only annoyance comes from the mono recording quality, which crackles at climaxes (particularly the end of Act 1) and just sounds dated. But what a performance! Unless you're willing to sniff out the expensive Sounds on CD release, this is probably the best transfer you're going to get for some time. It is worth noting that Decca put out a highlights disc of this recording in the original Stereo: Gilbert & Sullivan: Mikado (highlights) [Australia] (a pity it only lasts for 49 minutes including the 8-minute overture!).
Point is, this recording is an amazing deal -- what are you waiting for?"
D'Oyly Carte, $1.97 --
Stuart Thiel | Chicago | 07/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"-- how can you possibly go wrong? I don't know the technical stuff like the previous reviewer, but in terms of wonderful, wonderful songs per penny it's gotta be the best deal on the web."