Malcolm Sargent / Pro Arte Orchestra

Gilbert and Sullivan Overtures

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Malcolm Sargent served as an accompanist for amateur productions of Gilbert & Sullivan beginning when he was 14, was musical director for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1926 to 1928, and made complete recordings of several of the operettas with the company during that period, so he clearly had the Gilbert & Sullivan tradition in his blood. During the late '50s and early '60s he recorded nine of the operettas with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and the Pro Arte Orchestra, using regular Glyndebourne soloists. EMI has reissued all nine operettas, both individually and as a massive set. This album culls the overtures from eight of the complete works (The Mikado, The Gondoliers, Patience, Iolanthe, The Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Yeoman of the Guard), plus the overtures to The Sorcerer, Cox and Box, and Princess Ida, which Sargent recorded as filler for the other albums. The overtures allow Sargent to put his best work on display; his performances of the complete operettas are uniformly at a musically high level, but they vary in the extent to which they convey the element of fun that's essential to make Gilbert & Sullivan performances really sparkle, due at least in part to the quality and temperament of the singers. In the purely orchestral selections, though, Sargent's conducting and the playing of the Pro Arte Orchestra are disciplined, but witty, and models of ideally precise and nuanced Gilbert & Sullivan performance practice. EMI's sound is clean and crisp.

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