The National Musicale Pinafore (1964)

Original Issue
The National Musicale Company
Orchestra and Chorus

Society Re-Issue
London Savoyard Orchestra and Chorus
Nigil Lukas, conductor

Presto Re-Issue
Knightsbridge Light Opera Company
Lionel Peterson, conductor

Allegro ALL723
Allegro ALL723

This set of highlights was issued in 1964 with two companion discs, Pirates and The Mikado. Neither orchestra, nor soloists, nor conductor, was credited by name. It is a truly awful recording, with most numbers taken at horribly slow tempi. The hornpipe at the end of "A British tar" is taken at about half the correct speed.

In 1965, these highlights were re-issued on the Society label with a new overture and some of the numbers re-arranged. The re-issue credited Martyn Green, Richard Korn and James Pease as being among the cast, but this was clearly an error — Green is definitely not singing, and the other two probably aren't either. When the Society re-issue first appeared, Peter Parker wrote several letters of complaint to the publisher and was able successfully to have it withdrawn from the market (in the U.K. anyway).

Yet another re-issue, on the Presto label, credits the "Knightsbridge Light Opera Company under the direction of Lionel Peterson." The jacket artwork is extremely similar to that of the National Musicale release on Allegro. The sleeve notes say that the record is a product of Allied Records Ltd of 326 Kensal Road London.

The Society re-issue has the same notation, which suggests that this item may have come out after complaints that the earlier album erroneously claimed to have Martyn Green on it. However, Chris Webster says it is a completely re-mastered album using different tracks, which leaves the chronology of these re-issues still a mystery. The liner notes indicate that there is a Mikado on the same label, also featuring the Knightsbridge Light Opera Company under Lionel Peterson. This is presumably the National Musicale Mikado, but given all the confusion surrounding these re-issues, heaven knows what it is.

Several people have observed the patter baritone's uncanny resemblance to Vincent Price. While I do see the resemblance, I do not think it's him. By 1964, when this recording was made, Price was already a famous film star and had no reason to be moonlighting anonymously in a G&S recording. In the unlikely event that he had recorded any G&S at the time, surely he would have been credited under his real name. (Price later did appear in one G&S production, as Sir Despard in the Brent Walker Ruddigore, for which he was of course credited.)

Somewhat later, correspondent Teresa Chase advised me, to within a high degree of confidence, that the mystery baritone was almost certainly Ralston Hill, who was perhaps best known for creating the role of Congressional Secretary Charles Thomson in 1776, and who also understudied Martyn Green in productions of Pinafore and Pirates after his retirement from D'Oyly Carte.

The selections include:

Side 1Side 2
  • We Sail the Ocean Blue
  • I'm Called Little Buttercup
  • The Nightingale
  • A Maiden Fair to See
  • My Gallant Crew
  • Sir Joseph's Barge Is Seen
  • When I Was A Lad
  • A British Tar
  • Can I Survive this Overbearing?
  • Things Are Seldom What They Seem
  • The Hours Creep On Apace
  • A Many Years Ago
  • Oh Joy, Oh Rapture Unforseen
Issue History
1964 Allegro Mono LP ALL723  
1964? Bravo 45rpm BR 313
196-? Acorn Mono LP 644
1965 Society Mono LP SOC 990 Numbers re-ordered, and with a new overture
1965 Presto Stereo LP PRE 646 Yet another re-mastering and re-sequencing of the numbers
198-? Ditto Cassette DTO 10011 Two-cassette package with Pinafore and Pirates