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Posted October 1, 2010
After the great electric recordings by the D'Oyly Carte Company of all but three of the Gilbert & Sullivan masterpieces, the advent of LP brought forth on the London label (the Decca overseas) the ''Martyn Green'' series. Two of them (''Pinafore'' and ''Mikado'') have already been re-released by Naxos, and to that series is now added the double bill of ''The Pirates of Penzance'' and ''Trial By Jury,'' both recorded in 1949. This might be called the ''lost Pirates,'' since after Martyn Green redid the role in a very inferior version on the RCA Victor label, the London set just disappeared from the shelves; and rumor had it that Green had bought them all up. This seems unlikely, but he could not stop this reissue and very welcome it is. Green is in top form as Major-General Stanley, Darrell Fancourt (having missed singing the role on the 78 rpm set) enjoys his role, and Ella Halman is a most sympathetic Ruth. My favorite feature of this set is the bottomless basso of Richard Watson as the Police Sergeant, while Isidore Godfrey keeps the tempos brisk, as he does in the companion piece on this set. Alas I cannot recommend the tenor lead, Leonard Osborne, whose pinched nasal sound might have been acceptable on stage but comes over very poorly on recordings. (The exceptions are ''Ruddigore'' and ''Gondoliers,'' in which he plays a slightly rougher type of character.) His soprano, Muriel Harding, has been described as the best of a bad lot of sopranos during that era, but she is acceptable. The ''Trial By Jury'' does not have Green as the judge, as one would have expected, but Richard Watson, who does just fine. Again Osborne leaves something to be desired, Harding is more acceptable since her role does not require coloratura, and the rest of the male roles are a bit ''pudding voiced,'' as another critic put it. The sound on this set is a tad fuzzier, I think, than on the other two Naxos G&S issues. I would not recommend either of these versions as the first choice, but ardent Savoyards will find a place for them in their collections.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.