Well before Charles Mackerras became a conductor of note, he made an early splash with the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company through arrangements made for choreographer John Cranko from pre-existing music. Although the source music for the ballet Pineapple Poll comes from various Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, there is none of their characteristic patter here, indeed no singing at all. As Mackerras put it, Pineapple Poll is a "patchwork quilt of tunes [that] pass by so quickly as to bewilder Gilbert and Sullivan experts." Despite the odd title, Pineapple Poll is not a canvassing of a cross-section of the opinions of pineapple about the new capital gains tax or whatever. Rather, "Poll" is short for "Polly," as the ballet is based on a Gilbert verse about a group of cross-dressing sailors of the fairer sex that served as one of the sources for H.M.S. Pinafore. The Lady and the Fool is sourced from various, then obscure operatic works of Giuseppe Verdi, set to Cranko's own libretto.
Pineapple Poll has become so well known and often recorded that it is practically a "standard"; some are even willing to accept it as a reasonably genuine work of Arthur Sullivan, even though Sullivan didn't write it. Mackerras has recorded Pineapple Poll himself at least four times, and this thin-sounding 1977 recording with the London Philharmonic represents his third go at it. This recording of Pineapple Poll is a suite by virtue of holding back three numbers from the original ballet score, done to accommodate The Lady and the Fool on the original LP. The Lady and the Fool is much rarer and this appears to be the only recording ever made of it. Despite its basis in Verdi, The Lady and the Fool doesn't sound like Verdi at all, in fact both pieces sound more like Offenbach, and to hear them out of the blue one would never guess that they date from the early '50s, rather than from the century before. Mackerras did return to the complete Pineapple Poll once more in 1982, and if one is looking for this work, that's the better option. Unless the principal object is to obtain the rare The Lady and the Fool, this Classics for Pleasure release, as it relates to Pineapple Poll, is more like an exercise in the law of diminishing returns.