Sullivan arr. Mackerras
Pineapple Poll [complete]
Symphony in E (Irish)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded 1 & 2 August 2006 in Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson
Reviewed: October 2007
CD No: NAXOS 8.570351
Duration: 78 minutes
This is a delightful disc. At the risk of upsetting die-hard Savoyards I confess to great enthusiasm for Pineapple Poll. The ballet is a brilliant and joyful invention choreographed by the young (24-year-old) John Cranko. The expiry of copyright for Arthur Sullivan’s music in 1951 permitted Charles Mackerras to re-orchestrate it and the result is a stunningly colourful score. I sometimes feel just a little guilty at finding Sullivan’s melodies coming into my head in Mackerras’s orchestration rather than in the form created for Gilbert’s librettos but somehow the spirit of the composer’s creation is still retained because the plot of the ballet is actually based on a story by W. S. Gilbert.
Although the ‘Irish’ Symphony incorporates a greater number of melodies than an earlier composer would have used, Sullivan usually keeps reasonably close to classical symphonic form. The scherzo is very individual however. There are unusual characteristics, including a gentle introduction and the switching to a minor key when repeating a melody. In fact although the form is recognisably scherzo-trio-scherzo there are many original approaches to the manipulation of material: not least the nostalgic Dvořák-like feeling of the trio. The underlying rhythm of the finale is perhaps more Scottish than Irish but because of its strength it successfully underpins the many thematic ideas that Sullivan weaves over it.
The orchestral playing is sympathetic throughout. Lloyd-Jones presents a work that seems finely structured, enhanced by his unaffected shaping of the melodies and this achieves a feeling of forward progress.
Those who previously have not ventured further into Sullivan’s orchestral music than the overtures (and perhaps Pineapple Poll) should be delighted by the ‘Irish’ Symphony and its appreciative presentation here.