Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Pro Arte Orchestra- Gilbert & Sullivan- The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, and Patter Songs

This fine old collection was $5.  I bought it way, way right before I started writing this blog.  Yet, I still remember the cashier remarking how it reminded him of Raiders of The Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones franchise, as the minor character of Sallah, played by John Rhys- Davies, is fond of singing Gilbert & Sullivan numbers.  I found it a bit odd not only that the young tattooed clerk could connect this but could connect lines to HMS Pinafore.

On that note, a month back (or longer depending on when you read this), I attended The Houston Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of The Gondoliers.  I felt the production was quite good and very entertaining but as I went to the Sunday matinee, I was quite concerned that the audience was mostly over 85 and thought that perhaps appreciation for G&S was dying.  A friend of mine pointed out that Sunday matinees are mostly older crowds and the G&S are not going anywhere.

So then there is this record conducted by esteemed British conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967) who participated in his first G&S production at age 10.  He conducts the Pro Arte Orchestra with assorted soloists and the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.  I am not sure when this came out other than after Sargent’s passing but it seems to be a collection earlier recorded works, most notably two of G&S’s most famous works, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore.

So to start off with samples, from the Mikado, I went with my favorite song from this piece (which is never on any of the albums I buy), “The Sun Whose Rays…”.  It is sung my Elise Morrison.  From the HMS Pinafore, I went with “I Am The Monarch Of The Sea…. When I Was A Lad”, sung by George Baker.

In terms of the patter songs, I wanted to use a number from “The Gondoliers” to tie it in to  the story above but I felt the album should have put different numbers.  There are a couple good patter songs that involve the Gondoliers and their wives which I felt could have been used on this.  Oh well, In their place, here is “In Enterprise Of Martial Kind”, sung by Geraint Evans with the chorus.

I really wanted to post “My Eyes Are Fully Open” from Ruddigore, but I felt this version was to tepid and slow.  And for the most part, that is my criticism of this collection.  The patter songs as well as G&S’s catalog really works when done in rapid fire.  All the songs really could have used a but more speed.  So meh.  Sorry.

Mirella Freni- Airias

This was $1.  Two opera albums in one month.  I got this recently but unsure what drove the purchase other than price. Probably the inclusion of the piece from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro which I saw at the HGO if not this season, then last season .  Pretty good production that was.  Set in a 1970’s villa in the country side.

Mirella Freni, born in Modena, Italy in 1935, is a operatic soprano who made her debut in 1955 in Carmen.  She has performed various works of Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart as well as performed on the biggest stages including the Royal Opera House and the Met.  She also starred in the 1975 film version of Madame Butterfly.  She is still alive today but ended her career in 2005.

This is a collection of some of the arias from some of the famous works: Puccini’s Tosca, Verdi’s La Traviata, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro among others.  .  This is technically, quite good.  Freni is a wonderful singer and deserves more of a write up than this but some where along the way this week, I lost my appetite for writing this post, no slant against the artist.  This one is on me.  Also does not help that my mouse is on the fritz.

So I went with the aria from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, “Un Bel di Vedremo” as this seems to be the big work she seems to be associated with. For today’s output, I am going top let the music speak for itself.

Technically difficulties and poor attitude aside, this is a pretty good little album. Satisfactory,

Radioteleviziunea Română Orchestra de Studio- Rascoala

I am not sure what drew me to buy a Romanian opera record when I bought this.  Maybe it was the cover.  Maybe I was on an Opera kick, probably still riding the high of finishing off the 2017 Opera season at the HGO.  Either way, I bought this for $2.40 with discount.

I think part of the thought process of buying this involved taking it to my pal Scott, who used to sing in the chorus for the HGO and getting his thoughts on the album.  However, since taking over Dan Electo’s Guitar Bar and working the booking, plus the fact that I no longer really drink anymore, our schedules are mostly apart and I hardly get a chance to see him anymore.  That being said. if you are in Houston and are looking for music, might I suggest Dan Electros.  I thought about it a bit and thus, would compare the place to my blog, except the music is good ( I make no such guarantees for the records on this blog) and much more timely . They book a real diverse lineup of music and musicians.  Also, they have open mic nights which I participate in time to time.

Link to Dan Electro’s Home Page

Anyway, back to this. From what I am guessing, this is an opera based on the Romanian Peasant Rebellion of 1907. The Rebellion, lambasted by inequalities between landowners and the serf-class, was brought on when a local overseer(or lessor) of a wealthy property which owned 75% of arable land cut back work for the peasants The thought of no work which meant now food sparked a rebellion that started in Moldavia and spread thru the country, destroying property and killing or wounding lessors.  The event led to the overthrow of the ruling conservative parties and a more liberal government.

The history of Peasant rebellions, though, is largely a one sided affair with notable victories generally falling early in history and largely in East Asia.  In this case, the new liberal government called up the army to suppress the peasants and suppress they did.  Although official government figures are 400 casualties, most historians agree the number was more like 11,000 with 10,000 more arrested.  The army for its part, suffered a loss of 10. The government enacted new laws to help the peasants but none of them really effected the landowners so I believe they were mostly useless.  According to the Romanian Wikipage on this, this revolt tarnished Romania’s world reputation as a quiet peaceful nation at the time, although I can’t imagine many people on this side of the globe losing sleep over it.  The rebellion was a subject though of Romanian’s during the inter-war years with books and pieces of art, most notably the book Rascoala (1932) by Livio Rebreanu and the painting, The Uprising,  on the cover of this album by Octav Bancila, which I believe was banned for a period.  It was a series of 12.  Bancila also spent notable time looking for evidence that dispute the government tally of peasant deaths. Finally, there is a statue in Budapest to commemorate the event.

I am not 100% sure what this is or when it was written.  I believe it was written by Gheorge Dumitrescu (1901-1985) , a writer who worked on various mediums.  I am not sure what year this was written, perhaps 1959?  I believe he adapted the opera from Rebreanu’s work.  This work is performed by what I believe is the Radio/ Television Orchestra with the Studio Choir under the conduction of Carol Litvin.  Featured performers include Valentin Loghin, Silvia Voinea, and Cornel Rusu.  Again, I bevel this came out in 1977. (FACT CHECK- 1-Dumitrescu was in fact a composer with much work to his credit  2- This indeed came out in 1959).

I could not find much else out about the work but I found the music extremely interesting both in composition and execution.  I believe these are excerpts from the larger work.  I believe that Scott would judge this to be a good record.  A lot of chorus on it so its got that going for it. For samples, I decided to go with “Tabloul 2-Revelion” which to me sounds like a rural song of peasants gathering.  I also went with the last number “Tabloul 6 -Pirjolul” which Google translates into Pirates.  I am not sure how this song relates to the works but there are a lot of shrieking lines and the drum rolls sound like guns and cannons.

Nice little pick up for the price and really good music.  Satisfactory.