Thursday, May 3, 2012

Album Review: Gilbert & Sullivan: "Princess Ida" (Sargent, 1965); "Pineapple Poll"

Gilbert & Sullivan:  "Princess Ida;" "Pineapple Poll"
Sir Malcolm Sargent, D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Decca, 1965

This mediocre recording from 1965 turned out to be the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's final attempt at "Princess Ida," and their only version recorded in stereo. It was a missed opportunity. True, their earlier 1955 recording is marred by an atrocious Ida warbled by Victoria Sladen, but otherwise it is quite superior all around. I cannot at all recommend this 1965 version over it, and Elizabeth Harwood, the actress singing Ida here, isn't right for the role anyway although she's a mile ahead of Sladen. In short, among the many inadequate versions of Princess Ida on disc, this is certainly not the one to own. Sir Malcolm Sargent conducts the lackluster affair.

Also included is "Pineapple Poll," delightful ballet music written and conducted by Charles Mackerras, based on the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. It's always a pleasure to listen to this confection and to identify where the different themes come from.

Note: The two most recent blog posts (and two newer ones as well) also feature my reviews of various recordings of Arthur Sullivan's music. Yesterday's post discusses Richard Hickox's 2005 recording of "Cox and Box" and "Trial by Jury" featuring the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.


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