Malcolm Sargent

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers

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This version of The Gondoliers is one of nine recordings of the most popular Gilbert and Sullivan operettas Malcolm Sargent made in the late '50s and early '60s with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and the Pro Arte Orchestra. Sargent's conducting and the orchestra's playing are unfailingly graceful and gently witty. The Gondoliers is one of Sullivan's most sophisticated scores (and the last of his collaborations with Gilbert to be counted a success), and the elegance of Sargent's approach is for the most part appropriate, but his restraint keeps this version from attaining the sublime loopiness that characterizes the most memorable Gilbert and Sullivan performances. His reading is generally on the slow side, and the patter songs, particularly "In a contemplative fashion," don't have the exhilarating urgency they need to make their full impact. The musicality of the reading, though, and the quality of most of the singing make this a recording that Gilbert and Sullivan aficionados may well want to explore. More than most of Sullivan's operettas, The Gondoliers is an ensemble piece and the ensembles provide some of the most satisfying moments in this performance. Among the soloists, the men are generally stronger than the women. Geraint Evans, Alexander Young, Richard Lewis, John Cameron, and especially Owen Brannigan, create lively characterizations and are fully successful vocally. Monica Sinclair, a regular in Sargent's Gilbert and Sullivan recordings, is reliably hilarious, and Edna Graham sounds fresh and vibrant. In a bit of real luxury casting, Helen Watts makes a star turn in the tiny role of Inez. Two of the romantic leads, Elsie Morison and Marjorie Thomas, sound too mature and too serious to be fully convincing.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 6:13
2
feat: Chorus
3:30
3
feat: Alex Young
1:15
4 2:17
5 2:21
6 2:10
7 3:05
8 2:32
9 1:37
10 1:44
11
feat: Alex Young
2:21
12
feat: Alex Young
3:35
13 2:15
14 1:03
15 1:58
16 0:46
17 3:23
18 2:50
19 0:40
20 2:51
21 0:53
22 2:14
23 4:21
24
1:46

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:14
2 3:09
3 3:16
4 3:12
5 2:15
6 3:06
7 2:06
8 2:05
9 2:24
10 0:27
11 2:58
12 3:56
13 1:41
14 1:10
15
feat: Helen Watts
4:34
blue highlight denotes track pick