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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 15 August 2002
After listening to many recordings of The Mikado, this particular one did `Leave you with feelings of pleasure` to quote WS Gilbert.Balance twixt orchestra, chorus and soloists is finely honed; tempo good, diction superb.Minus the dialogue was no problem,and this recording with several of the wellknownD`Oyly Carte soloists romped merrily on it`s way. Incredible to think this was recorded in 1950. A wonderful trip down Memory Lane, and a recording to be listened to when your spirits need lifting.
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on 14 January 2013
The impression I get from this recording is the audio is drier than other reviewers find it and the performance routine. The plums are predictably when things perk up a bit (Little list, Three little maids, Act 11 madrigal,He're's a how-de-do,) but it takes numbers like these to make even the orchestra wake up. Occasional liveliness is no substitute for real sparkle in this most popular of the Savoy operas. Valerie Masterson, the star of the show, gives a bright,knowing portrait of Yum-Yum. Colin Wright as her sweetheart is hampered by a fast vibrato which gives him an off-putting bleating quality. Kenneth Sandford, a fine baritone, has by now lost the power of his lower notes (he is much more secure in 1957) and John Reed's Ko-ko seems tired and detached. Again Katisha's interruption of the festivities in the Act 1 finale seems underpowered. Nash's conducting is partly to blame, he is unable to sustain the drama. John Ayldon's Mikado is resonantly nasty (good maniacal laugh) but his music is without the majesty it deserves. Where Nash sometimes scores in his lightweight account of the score is in revealing the subtleties of Sullivan's orchestration, eg The Criminial cried. But whether this a price worth paying for a distinctly 2nd-rate D'Oyly Carte production is debatable.
For the D'Oyly Carte tradition of Mikado at its musical and dramatic best, with an excellent team of soloists it is hard to beat Isidore Godfrey's 1957 version which remains the gold standard.
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on 20 September 2012
I am absolutely convinced that this recording is really undeservedly overlooked by many experts of the piece. It combines more favourable features than any other recoding does:
- it is the only recording that contains all numbers of the play without any abbreviation
- there are no paraphrases (like in the case of the 1990 recording, which actually ruins that otherwise brilliant version)
- this is one of the most authentic recordings in the sense that it is done by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and by singers who sang these roles when the Company still existed (even though they almost all were after the prime of their career). The fact that the recording was made under the supervision of the last living D'Oyly Carte, Dame Bridget, makes the venture even more credible
- even though there are most notable D'Oyly Carte recordings from the past, this is the only digital one (apart from the 1992 version with its painful paraphrases)
All in all: it may be that there are versions that are more "vigorous", this one is probably the only one that satisfies the desires of those who pay attention to authenticity
Anyway, it would be welcome if English recording labels and music theatres would recognise that this piece is their great heritage and, therefore, they would produce a really carefully carried-out new adaptation of the Mikado. (As the Germans, the French etc. do with their greatest operas.)
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on 22 July 2004
This recording from 1973 was made to celebrate 21 years of John Reed in the company. Musically it is conducted with flair and some enlightening passages. Roysten Nash produces subtle elements of Sullivan's score. The principals without exception are all past their prime and cannot match the later Telemarc version. To find the best Mikado, try and find the 1957 recording with Donald adams, Thomas Round, Jean Hindmarsh and Peter Pratt, it can be found!! brilliantly refurbished onto CD. That is and was D'Oyly Carte at their best. There is also the 1957 Pirates available! Happy hunting.
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on 5 July 2004
Unlike most of the other Decca recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan, this one does NOT include the dialogue. However, apart from that it is, insofar as I am able to judge, a top recording.
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on 31 December 2004
OK, I gotta tell you I went ahead and clicked 'complete order' despite all the warnings from people who (in truth) I assumed were probably audiophiles ... well my setup is pretty kickass and can handle alot of subtlety when it comes to limited range, but this example of digital mastering has got to be the benchmark in bad work! I grew up with the two vinyl lps and they were my nursery rhymes - I guess my mum wanted some entertainment too LOL! Anyway, even totally battered they sound more alive than these CDs. Naxos couldn't have done a worse job of it - thick, dull, lifeless - it's as if Naxos are determined to consign this seminal performance to the tomb - I've rarely been so ready to chuck a CD away so PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS VERSION - if you want to have this particular performance do what the man (above) says and go hunt out the SOCD version - PEACE !!
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on 30 October 2002
The performance is magnificent but the remastering is awful. I didn't think the Decca records could be made to sound so flat and lifeless. Compare the one available from Pearl (expensive but really worth it) or better still from Sounds-on-CD. Don't be without the 1950 Mikado starring Martyn Green and a gorgeous chorus, terrific Mikado and Pooh-Bah. But don't expect anything from Naxos's (uncharacteristically) poor transfer.
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on 16 September 2014
I was in a performance of this in 1992 with the Welington Gilbert & Sullivan Society in Wellington, NZ. I have heard other recordings of the Savoy operas by other companies, and must say the D'Oyly Carte is the best.
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on 29 December 2003
A late D'Oyly Carte recording. Lacklustre. Even John Reed sounds past it (he's still alive - what mst he sound like now?). Avoid this and buy the single-disc Mackerras version, even though it is no longer cheaper than this two-disc version. Only buy this one if you can't stand to miss the ovwerture, the third verse of the "Little List" song and a repeat in the Act I finale.
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on 27 June 2013
Yes; this is fairly lacklustre - including problems with Nash's conducting (surprisingly), Sandford's aging voice (altho' he was only 49)and Ayldon's direly bawling Mikado.

However, there is still enough to enjoy; don't write this one off completely. Masterson's Yum-Yum is delicious, Wright as Nanki-P. is gracefully lyrical...and his fast vibrato is -to me- attractive. Most of all, John Reed in his only recorded Ko-Ko is right on the button! No hint of routine or of aging - he lights up the speakers whenever he sings.

The set is available 'used' very, very cheaply - as a third or fourth alternative Mikado, pick it up from one of those disgruntled reviewers who would consign this version to the dump...you might be pleasantly surprised!
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