Classic G&S (1999)
David Fieldsend, tenor
Richard Balcombe, piano
I didn't have high expectations for this CD. I'm not much of a fan of concerted highlights discs to begin with. The lack of a full band yanked my expectations down a notch further. Well, it ain't bad. I've a reservation here and there, but it's a fun little romp. At 72:15, the CD is generously timed. It's not a CD I'll play often, but it's certainly pleasant enough.
There are twenty tracks from Iolanthe, Yeomen, Gondoliers, Ida, Pinafore, Pirates, Mikado, Ruddigore, and Patience. Each of the singers gets at least one solo, and the rest is filled in with other ensemble work. The concluding number, "If Saphir I choose to marry," lets all five soloists get into the act. Balcombe accompanies with both sensitivity and virtuosic skill.
Gillian Knight and Gareth Jones do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned. Knight's "O foolish fay" is probably the best on record, and Jones simply excels in every number featuring him. Fieldsend doesn't make much of "Take a pair of sparkling eyes," but he does just fine in the more comic numbers.
Rebecca Knight hasn't persuaded me yet that she's ready for prime-time work as a soprano. Her voice has a breathiness that seems to work better in the mezzo range. Her best number on this disc is "Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted," thanks to her bubbly flirtatiousness. Eric Roberts imbues all his numbers with his unique comedic personality, but his voice seems to overpower these roles. His rendition of the Nightmare Song has a number of fluffs, and I'm surprised it wasn't redone.
The sleeve notes have the usual YeomAn misspelling, and they even describe "When Britain really ruled the waves" as being from H.M.S. Pinafore.
Julie Stevens contributed the following review:
Well, I finally got the opportunity to listen to my CD by Classic G&S. It is worth every penny (or pence)!!!! Gillian Knight is as wonderful as I remember from the D'OC recordings I have with her. What a wonderful sound. Rebecca Knight sounds like a very warm person. She makes me feel like she would be a very approachable person. Others have mentioned in the past that they had problems with her singing (IIRC, the comment was about her very audible inhalations). I noticed, but that did not really detract from her singing as far as I was concerned. The gentlemen are good, but I must admit I bought this CD just for Gillian Knight. Everyone else is just icing. Gareth Jones is my favorite among the men on this CD. David Fieldsend is ok, but not my favorite tenor. Eric Roberts is ok also, I guess, but really doesn't do much for me. The ensemble work is just wonderful, however. The voices blend very well. The piano works well for me. The voices come thru much clearer than if there was full orchestration (IMHO).
I wish they had identified who was singing what. Obviously the women were easier to tell apart (a soprano and a contralto), but the men were a little confusing — especially Gareth Jones and Eric Roberts. I think I have them straight, but it would have been a nice extra touch.
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