G&S Overture Discs (1980 - Present)

Sir Charles Groves Conducts Sullivan Overtures
Sir Arthur Sullivan: Overtures

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Charles Groves

This compilation comprises the same overtures as found on Groves's 1973 Gilbert and Sullivan Overtures disc, plus his 1968 recording of the Overture di Ballo.

Issue History
1983 HMV Greensleeve LP ESD 1077541 Titled "Sir Charles Groves Conducts Sullivan Overtures"
Seraphim Cassette 4XG 60438 Titled "Sir Arthur Sullivan: Overtures"

Sullivan Overtures (1986)

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Alexander Faris
Nimbus NI 5066
Nimbus NI 5066

Alexander Faris has done a good deal of G&S conducting, having led all of the Brent Walker videos and having sterved stints with both the Sadler's Wells Opera and, briefly, the old D'Oyly Carte. This is a competently-led collection, though it contains no material not readily available elsewhere. It includes the Overture di Ballo, plus all of the Savoy overtures from Sorcerer through Gondoliers except for The Mikado. The exclusion of the latter might strike one as curious, but it gave Faris the chance to include overtures such as Sorcerer and Ida that are omitted from many such compilations.

Bruce Miller pointed out that this performance of the Yeomen overture was included in "In Classical Mood", Volume 6, "Great Overtures" (Published 1998, International Masters Publishers AB, Catalogue No. US P 2201 12 006) He observes, "It is one of 11 overtures in a collection of characteristic operatic overtures by Bizet, Bernstein, Verdi, von Weber, Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Rossini. Interesting it is, and satisfying to Sullivan advocates that, at the close of the twentieth century, our hero should be included in such company.

Issue History
1986 Nimbus CD NI 5066

Sullivan Overtures (1987)
Sullivan/Rossini: Overtures (1996)

Pro Arte Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Malcolm Sargent
EMI CFP 4529
EMI CFP 4529

In 1987, EMI issued a single CD featuring all of Sir Malcolm Sargent's recordings of Sullivan overtures. In 1996, this was re-packaged on the Seraphim label with a second CD featuring music of Sir Edward German (not indicated by the set's title) as well as several popular Rossini overtures. The Sullivan and German items are drawn from Sargent's complete sets, and from two earlier overture LPs, Gilbert and Sullivan Overtures (1959) and More Gilbert and Sullivan Overtures (1961).

The Sullivan material comprises all of the Savoy Opera overtures from Sorcerer through Gondoliers, plus Cox and Box. The second disc of the Seraphim set contains the "Three Dances from Henry VIII" and "Three Dances from Nell Gwyn", both by Sir Edward German, and the following Rossini overtures: Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Guillaume Tell, Il viaggio a Reims and Semiramide. Sargent conducts the Vienna Philharmonic for the Rossini overtures, the Pro Arte Orchestra for all the other selections. All the selections have been digitally remastered.

Sargent's qualifications as a Sullivan conductor need no introduction, but he brings great vigor to the Rossini selections, too. Sullivan fans who are unfamiliar with Sir Edward German's works will find this an excellent introduction. The Seraphim set sells at a budget price and is indispensable.

Note: The Sorcerer, Ida and Cox and Box overtures are also included in the CD re-issue of the Sargent/EMI Pirates.

Issue History
1987 EMI CD CFP 4529 One CD
1991 EMI CD 67111 One CD
1996 Seraphim CD 5 69137 2 Two-CD set, titled "Sullivan/Rossini: Overtures"

Adagio AD 040
Adagio AD 040

Gilbert & Sullivan Overtures (199-?)

London Radio Orchestra
Frank James, conductor

I heard about this CD from Tim Devlin, and as Tim observed, it's curious that so little is known about it." The contents are the overtures to H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard, Iolanthe, The Gondoliers, and the Overture di Ballo. From the cover artwork, the date could be late 1980s or early 1990s.

Stephen Turnbull later confirmed that this is a pirate of the 1972 LP Sullivan Overtures (Decca SPA 259).

Issue History
199-?AdagioCDAD 040

Overtures by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan (1992)

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Orchestra
Conductors: John Owen Edwards and John Pryce-Jones
The New Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Simon Phipps

This compilation is taken mostly from the New Sadler's Wells and New D'Oyly Carte recordings of the corresponding operas. The only material that appeared on this disc for the first time were the Princess Ida, Patience and Yeomen overtures. (This disc predated the New D'Oyly Carte's complete recordings of the latter two operas.) Other interesting material on the disc includes the original Ruddigore overture and an uncut Overture di Ballo, though both of these items were previously released. The contents are as follows, with hypertext links to the recording with which the item was originally issued, if any:

Pinafore (Phipps/NSWO)
Pirates (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Patience (Owen Edwards/NDOC)
Iolanthe (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Princess Ida (Edwards/NDOC)
Mikado (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Ruddigore [Original Version] (Phipps/NSWO)
Yeomen (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Gondoliers (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Overture di Ballo (Pryce-Jones/NDOC)
Ruddigore [Toye Version] (Phipps/NSWO)
Issue History
1992 Musical Heritage Society CD 513191Z
1993 TER CD CDVIR 8316

Gilbert & Sullivan Overtures(1993)

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Conductor: Sir Neville Marriner
Philips 434 916-2
Philips 434 916-2

This overtures disc and Marriner's excellent Yeomen recording are the conductor's only G&S excursions to date, aside from a Mikado overture on a 1983 "famous overtures" disc. One can only hope for more. The contents of this disc escape the "usual suspects" and include Sullivan's Overtura di Ballo [a rare correct spelling of the work's title] and Macbeth overture. Other selections include the overtures to Pinafore, Yeomen, Iolanthe, Mikado, Pirates, Gondoliers and Patience.

Although the 1983 overtures disc falls outside this website's scope, Bruce Miller offered these comments comparing Marriner's two Mikado overture performances on records:

I have listened to both recordings. There are some differences, some subtle but others of some significance, between the two performances of the Mikado overture. The timing of the 1983 performance is 7:44, the timing of the 1993 performance is 7:46. Both display virtuoso playing and conducting. There are few other recorded performances of the Mikado overture that attain the high standard of playing, coupled with the authority of interpretation, of both these performances. As in everything Marriner conducts, special attention is paid to orchestral balances, both among and within the instrumental choirs.

The earlier performance has a beautifully controlled, chamber orchestra feel; Marriner takes more artistic risks. Thus, for my money, it is the more interesting, if more controversial, reading. The later one is broader, more full-bodied; closer to what must of us would probably call a "standard" performance of the Mikado overture. In both versions, he invites the tympanist to play a roll through the final three bars.

In 1983, Marriner had the strings play a slight glissando on the opening figure, quite pronounced. In 1993 it's still there, but crisper. Certain orchestral details in 1983 are apparently the result of some editorial investigation. The final brass chord is the low version found in the composer's autograph, but in 1993 Marriner apprently was using the standard D'Oyly Carte performance text that has more open voicing.

One of the more striking aspects of the 1983 version is Marriner's treatment of the phrase "Yes, in spite of all my meekness/If I have a little weakness/It's a passion for a flight of thunderbolts." He takes a rall. followed by a slight break in the musical line (the musical equivalent, pehaps, of a raised eybrow), then he goes back into tempo. In 1993 there is still a slight rall., but the whole thing is more smoothed over.

The 1983 disc is "Famous Overtures" (Philips LP 411 450-1; Cassette 411 450-4; CD 411 450-2). The other overtures on the disc are Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss, Jr.), Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna (Franz von Suppe), Fra Diavolo (Auber), The Bartered Bride (Smetana), and La Belle Hélène (Offenbach).

Issue History
1993 Philips CD 434 916-2

The Gilbert and Sullivan Overtures (1998)

Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Conductor: Andrew Penny
Naxos 8.554165
Naxos 8.554165

It is hard to get excited about another overtures disc, but at a budget price, this one will rank among the best of them. The included overtures are: Cox and Box, Sorcerer, Pinafore, Pirates, Patience, Iolanthe, Ida, Mikado, Ruddigore (Toye), Yeomen, Gondoliers (with Sargent accretions), Grand Duke.

Stephen Turnbull reports:

Cox and Box is a little leisurely for my taste, but otherwise these are excellent performances. It is particularly good to have a decent performance of The Grand Duke.

The only downside to this issue is its booklet note, which is twaddle, and, like so many, takes no account of the scholarship of the last thirty years. The French note is a direct translation of the English, incidentally, but the German note is completely different, twice the length and, at first glance, more interesting.

Issue History
1998 Naxos CD 8.554165

Universal Classics CD Cover
Universal Classics CD

Gilbert & Sullivan: Overtures

This disc contains the complete set of overtures from the D'Oyly Carte stereo recordings made from 1960–76.

Issue History
2003 Universal Classics CD [need number]