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Andrew King
MUSO, June 2009

This CD of music by the king of English operetta, Sir Arthur Sullivan, adds to David Lloyd-Jones’ already extensive and successful discography for Naxos.

The disc kicks off with Sir Charles Mackerras’ witty ballet, Pineapple Poll, devised and constructed using the most famous of Sir Arthur’s melodies with orchestral reconstruction where vocal lines should be. The toe-tapping tunes are all linked by The Bumboat Woman’s Story, a story of Sullivan’s librettist W S Gilbert, which in later years formed the basis of HMS Pinafore.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s (RLPO) approach to this delightful score is not only sensitive to the lightness of the music but also humorous and superbly coloured. Lloyd-Jones’ attention to detail and balance is second to none with well-placed and crisp solos amid glorious full orchestral passages of dynamic variety and emotional intensity.

This account of a much-underperformed work is a rival to Mackerras’ own recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra and will doubtless leave you singing along with many a recognisable ditty.

Coupled with this melodic tour de force is Sullivan’s youthful Symphony in E. Written at the age of 21 while on a holiday in Ireland, the opening movement is dripping with lush Romantic passages that suggest Mendelssohn and Schubert. The sub-heading ‘Irish’ is not misplaced and the following movements include folksong-like melodies of a distinct Irish flavour. As with the ballet, the RLPO attacks Sullivan’s score with a striking vigour and a sincere sense of fun.

Once again Lloyd-Jones presents us with another tremendous recording. This disc is a welcome addition to any dedicated Sullivan fan’s collection. Here you will find gripping and exciting accounts of great music by one of England’s underappreciated orchestral composers.

Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, March 2008

…this reading under Lloyd-Jones is the best yet, with finer sonics and more attention to the sumptuous lyrical line when required. Lloyd-Jones is equally good at picking out orchestral details, yet never loses the momentum of this delightful work.

He also turns in the best reading I’ve heard of the Symphony: serious and compact when called for in the first and fourth movements, playful and admirably light in texture for the Scherzo, restrained yet songful in the Andante.

Definitely recommended. © 2008 Fanfare Read complete review

Michael Greenhalgh
MusicWeb International, February 2008

"I wouldn’t say Lloyd-Jones outclasses the competition which has its own character but his interpretations stands their corner and honour Sullivan’s melodic gifts. This good value CD does have the advantage in price which will I hope encourage many to become acquainted with Sullivan’s symphony."

Andrew Lamb
Gramophone, November 2007

A welcome coupling, with the ballet as starter for the splendid symhony

A coupling of these works has never appeared before. Yet Mackerras’s medley of Savoy melodies provides an ideal appetizer for Sullivan’s Irish Symphony, distinguished by delightfully easy-going charm and lightness of touch. Mackerras recorded Pineapple Poll complete three times, the versions marked more by progressive improvements in sound quality than by changes in interpretation. If Lloyd-Jones shaves the odd second or two off Mackerras’s timings for individually movements, it’s due as much as anything to the latter’s greater flexibility in allowing the score to unfold. Lloyd-Jones is less successful, too, in drawing out the individual themes of the elaborately woven score. In terms of both performance and recorded sound, Mackerras’s 1982 Decca recording remains the first choice.

The Symphony is a different matter. This new version is an improvement both interpretatively and sonically on the pioneering Groves version with the RLPO of almost 40 years ago (EMI, 4/94 – nla), a version that also lacks the first movement’s exposition repeat. More particularly, Lloyd-Jones has the edge on Hickox and the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos, 3/01) in the natural unfolding and emotional contrasts of the work. There’s a more inherent urgency to the outer movements and greater attention to instrumental detail throughout. The second movement is especially beautifully done. Even for those who have an earlier version there’s a strong case for this inexpensive newcomer. For those who don’t, the recommendation is a clear one.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, October 2007

The idea for arranging a suite of "eminently danceable tunes" from this (and probably other)G&S operettas occurred to Sir Charles MacKerras during performances in Australia. It's an excellent notion, even if a bit on the long side for such music. The "Irish" Symphony is another matter. Sullivan's melodic gifts benefit from Schubert and Mendelssohnian influences - which is a good thing in this case, resulting in a fine addition to the Romantic orchestral repertoire.

David Hurwitz, September 2007

Growing up as I did in the New England prep-school tradition, I had the opportunity to sing in some half-dozen Gilbert and Sullivan operettas (we did one every year), and saw many more in local productions in and around Connecticut. I remember particularly memorable productions of Iolanthe and Patience (dragoons on motorcycles), but at one time or another I had the good fortune to see or act in most of these pieces, some on multiple occasions. Although Gilbert's verbal wit does not export well, at least according to my friends on the continent, Sullivan's tunes remain some of the finest and most memorable ever to grace operetta. I'll take him over those Viennese schlockmeisters any day, though Offenbach is another story entirely.

All of which is a long way of saying that Pineapple Poll, Charles Mackerras' balletic answer to Gaîté Parisienne, is a masterpiece of musical pastiche, and a delicious treat for anyone who just wants to relax and revel in delicious melodies, dressed up in "bright as a shiny new penny" orchestration.

Mackerras himself recorded "Poll" at least twice, for EMI and later for Decca in the early digital days, and both performances are splendid, as might be expected. But so is this one. It's every bit as rhythmically infectious, exceptionally well played, and brilliantly recorded. David Lloyd-Jones' vivacious take on the Irish Symphony provides a very substantial bonus, making this new release a prime recommendation if you want to hear Sullivan's major orchestral work alongside many of his best tunes, but without the voices. Marvellous!

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2007

The popularity and vast financial rewards his comic operettas brought to Arthur Sullivan was a double-edged sword, slicing away any chance of his being remembered as a serious composer. That massive contribution he brought to every sector of music in the UK is now long forgotten, the ‘Irish’ symphony being the sole survivor in the fringes of the concert repertoire. Born in 1842 he studied composition in London and Leipzig, though it was as a conductor and organist that he shaped his early career. The symphony started when he was 21 following a visit to Northern Ireland to follow in the footsteps of his Irish ancestors.  Mendelssohn provided the style and stimulus for the symphony, Sullivan displaying a strength in the opening movement that would later be taken up by Brahms. A gentle lilting slow movement leads to a scherzo that uses an Irish melody, before we return in the finale to the score’s predominantly Germanic mood. Derivative in may be, but it is a most pleasing score whose neglect is very sad, particularly when you hear it in such a superb performance from the Liverpool orchestra. Charles Mackerras recalls that the idea of creating a ballet from the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas came while playing in an orchestra touring G & S. Much later he met the choreographer, John Cranko, and the idea was put into being, the scenario taking its inspiration from the G & S story of HMS Pinafore. Mackerras used music from the most famous operettas, recreated and orchestrated so that the vocal parts were integrated into the music. Pineapple Poll was premiered in London in 1951, and despite its popularity has seldom appeared on disc. David Lloyd-Jones, for many years a man of the theatre, brings the score vividly to life, solos from the orchestra’s principals giving added value to the excellent playing of the RLPO, and with mixed feelings I now replace my much loved Mackerras with this highly detailed and vivid recording.

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