"I don't understand the many recordings out there that do not treat Gilbert & Sullivan operettas with the care that they deserve. The recordings of most G&S out there tend to have uneven or subpar singing and/or unintelligible enunciation, even if they follow in the footsteps of the O'Doyle Company. This version of Yoemen of the Guard, with world class conductor and singers, has excellent singing, beautiful orchestra, chorus that is full of energy and together, stereo sound with real depth, and as an added bonus, the dialogue! Sir Marriner's tempo is just right in most places, and most singer sings with passion, especially Kurt Streit. All Gilbert and Sullivan operettas should receive a treatment like this!"
Pros and cons
Pitti-Sing | Titipu, Japan | 02/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally Gilbert's marvelous plot and Sullivan's brilliant music are given the treatment they deserve in this breathtaking performance. The academy and chorus of St. Martin in the Fields, impeccably conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, accompany a renowned cast including well-known Gilbertian contralto Anne Collins, opera stars Bryn Terfel, Thomas Allen, and Sylvia McNair. Other perhaps lesser known singers in the cast include Jean Rigby, whose limpid, gorgeous mezzo compliments Pheobe's role beautifully; Kurt Streit, who, in his divine Mozart tenor, reveals the true loveliness of Sullivan's music.
This is, admittedly, a departure from the `traditional' Gilbert and Sullivan performances...the original D'Oyly Carte opera company was mainly comprised of actors who could sing, as opposed to singers who could act, and the company has somewhat continued this tradition with its inclusion of many who were not exactly the stuff of grand opera but who did very well in light opera (baritone Kenneth Sanford comes to mind). It is true, the acting in this production does often come off as rather wooden; Jean Rigby lacks emotional pathos while Bryn Terfel rather overdoes it. I would have preferred an alternative recording without the dialogue, but as long as you have a skip button you'll do very well.
And yet, for the sake of musicality, I must admit that the D'Oyly Carte recording captured the spirit of this opera better. Elizabeth Harwood, I will always maintain, had a knack for finding the soul even in the comic roles of Gilbert, and in the somber role of Elsie she far outdid Sylvia McNair in understanding of the role. As much as I love Bryn Terfel, Kenneth Sanford had a better knack for the gentle comic qualities of Wilfred, and John Reed's thin voice was more suited for the doomed Jack Point than Thomas Allen's (albeit gorgeous) robust sound. If, like me, you love to hear Sullivan's work done justice musically and still want a full emotional experience, I would recommend both this and the D'Oyly Carte recording. Both are excellent, though different, interpretations of a little known but brilliant work. "
The Yeomen of the Guard - Marriner
V. Cross | Dorset, England | 04/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sir Neville Marriner has succeeded in elevating Sullivan's score to the distinction it deserves. Every musical nuance is there. A truly wonderful reading. The cast I found had its imperfections especially Thomas Allen as Jack Point. His accent was distracting and not consistent in dialogue/singing. John Reed has the pathos of Point. Jean Rigby did not have Phoebe's lightness of touch. She sounded too old. Kurt Streit is the star of this recording. Right into the character of Fairfax. Magnificently sung with great musicality and perfect English enunciation. Elegant singing at its best. Men's chorus very well sung but the ladies lacked the brilliant ring of the D'Oyly Carte chorus. Well worth buying. "
Beautiful Voices AND Funny, to Boot!
Ruth & Russ Hansen | Evanston, IL USA | 06/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My enjoyment of this recording far exceeded my expectations. Drawn by Sylvia McNair's involvement, I was unprepared for the compelling beauty of all the voices, the superb musicianship and the comedy that isn't lost in some silly quest for "beautiful tone over all." This is not some stodgy museum piece. Every word is understood and the performance is really a credit to the piece."