This is a hugely impressive new recording of The Yeomen of the Guard, with a tremendous freshness and naturalness, theatricality and musicality about it. Behind its success is recorded sound of extreme clarity, with first-rate balance between orchestra and singers. There is also splendid pacing of the score from the conductor, John Owen Edwards, who produces impressive solemnity in the more serious moments (including a really haunting march in the finale of Act 1) but deliciously imparts life into lighthearted numbers such as "Here's a man of jollity" and "Rapture, Rapture".
The soloists are all appealing, with Jill Pert as Dame Carruthers repeating the favourable impression she made last year in TER's The Gondoliers (5/92) and lolanthe (5/92). There is real pleasure in the singing of Lesley Echo Ross, who was Phyllis in lolanthe and is here a refreshingly clear, youthful Elsie Maynard, her voice soaring beautifully in the ensembles. Fenton Gray is a first-rate light baritone Jack Point, too, enunciating his words with considerable clarity.
David Fieldsend's is not a heroic tenor but a suitably light, lyrical and likeable one for the role of Fairfax, while Gary Montaine as Wilfred Shadbolt, Terence Sharp as Sergeant Meryll and Donald Maxwell as Sir Richard Cholmondeley all contribute to a strong cast. The theatricality of the venture is nowhere better demonstrated than in the inclusion of the dialogue over the music that precedes "1 have a song to sing, 0!". This uniquely complete version also includes the contributions of the Third and Fourth Yeomen in the Act 1 finale and, in an appendix, three deleted numbers first recorded by Pearl 20 years ago (3/73-nla). This would now be my preferred version of Yeomen, taking precedence even over the splendid 'old' D'Oyly Carte recording under Sargent, with Elizabeth Harwood (Decca).
Much the same virtues of musicality are to be found in the collection of overtures taken largely from TER complete recordings. The selection includes the original, fuller-length Overture di ballo and also, in addition to the 1921 Ruddigore Overture, what TER (with sad disregard for the niceties of the English language) describe as the "alternate" original 1887 version. Since this latter is in addition to the same number of overtures as on the alternative collection under Alexander Fans (Nimbus a) NI5066), it represents a generous bonus.
A.M .L. Gramophone.net