Malcolm Sargent

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Yeoman of the Guard

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Early in his career, Malcolm Sargent was musical director of the D'Oyly Carte Opera, so the spirit of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas was in his blood, and with that company he made the first complete recording of The Yeoman of the Guard in 1928. Thirty years later, he made his second (of three versions) based on a Glyndebourne production featuring the Pro Arte Orchestra and a cast of some of the finest British singers of the period. The Yeoman of the Guard is Gilbert and Sullivan's most sober work, with their usual ebullient silliness toned down, and with an emotionally complex resolution, in which the central couple is happily wed, but in which three major sympathetic characters are left desolate. It's appropriate that this performance, while full of vitality and the requisite level of humor, has the seriousness (and sometimes grandeur) for which Sullivan had been striving, and which he had felt unable to express in setting Gilbert's previous whimsical librettos. One of the virtues of this version is the consistently high quality of the singing. For all the authenticity of their tradition and genuine humor, the D'Oyly Carte versions of the operettas can feature singers who are not of the first rank. With singers like Geraint Evans, Owen Brannigan, Richard Lewis, Elsie Morison, and Monica Sinclair, this cast brings an extraordinary level of vocal distinction to the score (although Lewis occasionally tends, uncharacteristically, to croon). The Pro Arte Orchestra and Glyndebourne Festival Chorus perform with elegance, lightness, and a rich, full sound. This version does not include the spoken dialogue.

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