Sullivan: The Gondoliers; Cello Concerto in D

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WORKS: The Gondoliers; Cello Concerto in D
PERFORMER: Geraint Evans, Alexander Young, Owen Brannigan, Richard Lewis; Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, Pro Arte Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent; Julian Lloyd Webber (cello); LSO/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: HMVD 5 73672 2 (available only from HMVstores) ADD/DDD Reissue (1957, 1986)
If it’s a vintage Fifties Gondoliers you want, there is, as Don Alhambra would say, ‘no possible doubt whatever’ that Sargent’s is the one to have, the rival Decca D’Oyly Carte recording being currently unavailable. With Owen Brannigan as the Grand Inquisitor, Geraint Evans as the Duke of Plaza-Toro, Richard Lewis and John Cameron as the two gondolieri, and Alexander Young and Edna Graham sweetly matched as the future King and Queen of Barataria, vocal values are high, diction exemplary, orchestral sound fine for its age. Unlike Decca, HMV omitted spoken dialogue (as does TER’s otherwise recommendable 1991 version with the revived D’Oyly Carte). The slack is taken up with Lloyd Webber’s 1986 premiere recording of Sullivan’s early Cello Concerto – a work whose wan, sub-Mendelssohnian charm makes Mackerras’s feat in reconstructing its lost orchestral parts from memory (having conducted a single BBC broadcast over 30 years before) all the more remarkable. Mark Pappenheim