One of mainstream-minded Concord's few so-called crossover projects -- hence the separate label -- this isn't a very successful venture, a hodgepodge of this and that, recorded with a flat commercial sheen. Misleadingly, the CD opens with Flora singing the blues on the Cheathams' "Sweet Baby Blues," upon which Airto plays straight traps. But while "Garimpo" gets the album back on the Latin track, the energy and quirky inventiveness of the Moreiras is mostly out to lunch, buried under the in-your-face sound and dissipated among a variety of instrumental lineups. "Jump" does get some sharp Brazilian funk going, and the title track has some of the old Airto craziness, but the rest is not going to light too many fires.
This is a reissue of a very well-performed and fun-filled recording from 1968 by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which includes the dialog. The cast and chorus bring out the humor of the operetta by taking their parts seriously. The dialog is not delivered with the singsong, exaggerated sentiment found in some of the other D'Oyly Carte recordings. The stars of the performance are Valerie Masterson, who has no difficulty handling the coloratura flights in "Poor Wand'ring One," and John Reed as the Major-General, who recites his model characteristics with aplomb and not so speedily as to turn it into nonsense. Philip Potter as Frederic, Donald Adams as the Pirate King, and Christene Palmer as Ruth round out the cast. This is the last recording conductor Isidore Godfrey made with the company, retiring shortly afterward, having been its music director for 39 years.
He makes Pirates sound more like grand opera than light opera. One minor regret is that in transferring the recording, it was not possible to get all of Act 1 on one CD. This means, since the dialog is on the same track as the immediately preceding musical number, the first CD ends rather surprisingly after the orphan/often misunderstanding between the Major-General and the Pirate King. This recording, along with the 1959 H.M.S. Pinafore, represents the best stereo recordings made by the company that premiered the works in the nineteenth century.