A Hazassagszedelgo

(Trial By Jury in Hungarian)

Reported by J. Donald Smith
The Learned JudgeGyorgy Melis
The PlaintiffMargit Laszlo
The DefendantJozsef Reti
Counsel for the PlaintiffSandor Palcso
UsherEndre Varhelyi
Foreman of the JuryLaszlo Domahidi

Chorus and Orchestra of the
Hungarian Radio and Television

Conductor: Tamas Blum
Translation: Tamas Blum
Introduced by: George Mikes

Broadcast on BBC, 24th July 1966 from
An original broadcast on Hungarian Radio

This most unusual of performances contains the best quality voices and strongest orchestral playing that I can remember — and that includes the recent Charles Mackerras recordings on Telarc. There is exquisite attention to dynamics, to note values, and to trills and grace notes.

The singers all have lush operatic voices but with very clear enunciation (so far as I can tell, being unacquainted with Hungarian) and seem deliver their performances with great understanding and humor. The Judge, in particular, has a warm, resonant baritone voice and belies the canard that the comic baritone doesn't have to sing: he brings a new dimension to the role. The Usher is a real bass and his performance almost steals the show.

Unfortunately, some of the numbers ("A Nice Dilemma", "When First My Old, Old Love I Knew" and "Comes the Broken Flower") are taken far more slowly than is traditional — perhaps for understanding, but it makes the piece drag a bit. In contrast to the slow tempi, as a real enhancement, there is some additional orchestration at several points to fill out a thin accompaniment. The presence of lower brass and woodwinds during "O Will You Swear," for example, provides a sound out of a Russian opera and gives a rather sinister tone to the Usher's remarks. Not Sullivan but well within the spirit.

A performance well worth the effort of finding and hearing.

[Editor's Note: I do not normally list radio broadcasts of G&S, but this item was broadcast contemporaneously with the other BBC complete recordings in 1966, and many fans have copies taken off the air.]