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CD Review

Gilbert & Sullivan

Princess Ida

  • Arthur Sullivan: 'Pineapple Poll' - arranged by Mackerras *
  • Kenneth Sandford
  • Philip Potter
  • David Palmer
  • Jeffrey Skitch
The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent
* Philharmonia Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
Decca 473653-2 2CDs 129m DDD
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'Princess Ida' (or Castle Adamant) is one of the lesser known Savoy operas by Gilbert and Sullivan but it is no less spectacular and inventive. This Decca recording features the famed Sir Malcolm Sargent directing the equally legendary D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and there is also a fine recording of Pineapple Poll thrown in for good measure.

The opera is split into three acts and after a sprightly overture we are thrown pell-mell into a load of memorable and wonderfully tuneful numbers that are so characteristic of Sullivan at his best. The Finale to Act 1 is particularly inspiring with the chorus singing lustily and with great character to conclude the piece in superb fashion. The rest of the opera is vintage G&S with numbers including several arias and duets that are too numerous to mention but which will definitely please all good old anglophiles! The 1965 recording is beautifully crisp and clear giving an added bonus to the recording which has been resurrected in its original cover.

I have recently reviewed some new Testament discs with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting his own Verdi arrangements and this famous recording of 'Pineapple Poll' is no less desirable for the collector. The pot pourri of tunes from the Savoy operas comes across as wonderfully refreshing and the 1972 recording is a wonder for clarity and breathtaking sound. It makes the set very generous as regards playing time and if you are collecting these operas, I would unhesitatingly recommend that this double bill should be one of the first items on your next shopping list.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech