WORKS: HMS Pinafore
PERFORMER: Richard Suart, Thomas Allen, Michael Schade, Rebecca Evans, Felicity Palmer, Donald Adams, Richard Van AllanWelsh National Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80374 DDD
The decks are scrubbed, the pennants are a-flutter, the guns polished until they gleam – here is as trim an HMS Pinafore as you could wish for, and Captain Mackerras certainly ‘commands a right good crew’. Among familiar names, top billing rightly goes to Richard Suart, the reigning patter-king of G & S, as Sir Joseph Porter. The lovers are Rebecca Evans (in my view one of the brightest newcomers to the soprano field) and Michael Schade, whose faultless Ralph only once betrays a possibly American or Canadian origin. Except for one spot, the clarity of words is exemplary: I cannot quite believe that Thomas Allen sings ‘I am the cabin [Captain] of the Pinafore’.
Mackerras’s readiness to linger for sentiment’s sake leads to an inartistic break of Evans’s long ascending final phrase in ‘Sorry her lot’. But otherwise all goes well in the generous acoustic of the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, with beautiful instrumental colouring. Unacknowledged, David Russell Hulme’s editorial work for the New Sadler’s Wells Opera version (recorded on TER) seems to show in departures from the familiar vocal score: a pizzicato introduction to the entr’acte and, at ‘your matchless girl’, a top G instead of A (I rather regret that). Arthur Jacobs