The 1907 Pathé Yeomen
Accompanied by the Band of
This recording, issued as a complete set in November 1907, required special playback equipment, as the discs played from the center outwards. Very few copies seem to have sold. In an earlier version of this page, I stated (on the authority of Wolfson) that no complete copies of the set are known to have survived. I've since learned that this is incorrect—in fact, the set was re-issued on cassette by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society and is now available on CD— but suffice it to say that original copies of the recording are extremely rare. Pathé must have learned their lesson, as several sides were re-issued on the more-conventional edge-start discs.
Amy Evans, who doubled the roles of Elsie and Phoebe, was technically a Savoyard, as she understudied Nancy McIntosh in Fallen Fairies and replaced her in the second week of the opera, the last Gilbert ever produced. This was her only G&S recording. She had the distinction of being the last surviving Savoyard when she passed away in January, 1983.
The remainder of the cast have no particular G&S association, but it is interesting to note that, despite some double-casting, the roles are assigned reasonably consistently, something that cannot be said for most of the early HMV sets. (Wolfson says that the role of Phoebe was shared between Evans and Foxcroft, but this appears to be incorrect.)
Stephen Turnbull, who owns a complete set, had these comments on the recording:
Purely as a performance of Yeomen (abridged to 18 sides), this recording is highly variable. The tenor, Ben Ivor, has a nasal hoot that makes Leonard Osborn's voice sound positively charming (dives for cover). Have you ever heard "Is life a bhhhhhhoooooooon?"? The other singers are better, and one is of Savoyard interest: Amy Evans (Elsie) was in the cast of Fallen Fairies two years after she made this recording. Incidentally, the label of one of the sides — "The Pris'ner Comes" — describes her as ARMY Evans. The accompaninent is by the Band of the Scots Guards: the word "orchestra" is not used — a refreshing piece of honesty.
Content-wise, greatest interest lies in the first known recording of the couplets for Third and Fourth Yeomen (they were recorded again in 1923, but not again until the '90s), and an encore verse (complete with applause, etc.) of "I've Jibe and Joke" which predates the well-known encore in the Odeon Mikado set.
In short, it is an unremarkable performance overall, but with some historic interest both in cast and content.
There are significant differences between the recording details given in Francis and Wolfson. Francis says that the series was issued on eighteen 10 3/4-inch single-sided discs; he does not say if they were center-start or edge-start. Wolfson says that the recording was issued on nine 11-inch double-sided center-start discs, and then partly re-issued on six 11-inch double-sided edge-start discs. The catalog numbers that Francis and Wolfson give are the first three columns, respectively, of the following table.
Wolfson says that the recording was originally issued in November, 1907. Francis does not say when it was issued, only that it was recorded in 1907.
Bruce Miller's Notes on this Recording
|1907||Pathé||18 10-3/4" single-sided discs||see table||#1 below|
|1907||Pathé||9 11" double-sided centre-start discs||see table||#2 below|
|????||Pathé||4 11" double-sided edge-start discs||see table||#3 below|
|1987||Sir Arthur Sullivan Society||Cassette||unnumbered|
|March 2000||Symposium||CD||1267||With 1907 Russell Hunting Company Pinafore|
|1||76086||233||N/A||When maiden loves||Foxcroft|
|2||76071||20752 s.1||When our gallant Norman foes||Foxcroft & Chorus|
|3||76083||234||N/A||Is life a boon?||Ivor|
|4||76073||How say you, maiden?||Evans, Pierpoint, Ludlow|
|5||76085||235||20749||I've jibe and joke||Ludlow|
|6||76087||Were I thy bride||Foxcroft|
|7||76081||236||N/A||Oh, Sergeant Meryll, is it true?||Pierpoint, Ivor & Chorus|
|8||76077||Didst thou not, O Leonard Meryll [includes 3rd & 4th Yeomen's couplets]||Ludlow, Ivor & Chorus|
|9||76076||237||N/A||To thy fraternal care||Foxcroft, Ivor, Pierpoint & Chorus|
|10||76070||The prisoner comes||Evans & Chorus|
|11||76078||238||N/A||Night has spread her pall once more||Chorus|
|12||76084||Oh, a private buffoon||Ludlow|
|13||76075||239||20750||Hereupon we're both agreed||Ludlow & Pierpoint|
|14||76082||Free from his fetters grim||Ivor|
|15||76080||240||20752 s.2||Strange adventure||Evans, Foxcroft, Pierpoint & Ivor|
|16||76072||N/A||A man who would woo a fair maid||Evans, Foxcroft & Ivor|
|17||76074||241||20751||When a wooer goes a-wooing||Evans, Foxcroft, Ivor & Ludlow|
|18||76079||I have a song to sing, O [Finale Act II]||Evans, Foxcroft, Ludlow & Chorus|
- The sides are listed above in playing sequence. Without further information, it is impossible to list them in the order recorded. Rees thinks that the numbers in the "#1" column above are matrix numbers, but both Wolfson and Francis seem to agree that they are catalog numbers.
- This is one of the few sets that both Francis and Wolfson cover in detail, and upon which they almost agree. Minor discrepancies are noted below.
- Francis gives the catalog number of side 2 as 76061, but this is clearly a typo, because he says elsewhere that the overall sequence is 76070-76087. Wolfson and Rees are correct.
- Wolfson omits s. 12, and he says, "Until a copy of the complete recording turns up, it will remain a mystery. As it has since been re-issued on CD, evidently at least one complete set exists!
- Francis says that "I have a song to sing, O" (side 18) is its Act I version, but he is incorrect. See Bruce Miller's notes, above.
- Pearl re-issued sides 16 & 18 on The Art of the Savoyard, Volume II.