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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pineapple Poll*

Unlike my previous posts, the subject today is actually the piece named in the title.  It's Pineapple Poll, a ballet created by (among others) Charles Mackerras, the English conductor, using music of Gilbert and Sullivan.  G and S aficionados will recognize excerpts from Mikado, Patience, and H.M.S. Pinafore and doubtless others. I first ran across this delightful, frothy pastiche as a freshman in college, where we played the Duthoit transcription in Concert Band with Carl St. Clair.

I've always had a deep affection for Gilbert and Sullivan's work. I don't know whether it's because of the active G and S Society in Ann Arbor, or my frequent brushes with it in the theater, or if it's simply my predilection to be a big ol' smarty-pants like G and S were in their day.

Musically, it's not profound, and it's not meant to be. There was something strangely familiar about the scoring, and now I know why.  In high school, we played Benjamin Britten's Soirees Musicales, a work of similar intentions using the music of Rossini. The scoring of the Britten is so much like Mackerras' work, one could be forgiven for mistaking the two.

According to Allmusic.com, "the plot of Pineapple Poll revolves around Pineapple Poll and her colleagues, who are all madly in love with the captain of the good ship H.M.S. Hot Cross Bun. In order to board the ship, they disguise themselves in sailors' clothes, a fact that is not revealed to the audience until near the end of the ballet".  Who said there were no good stories left to tell?

*--Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, arr. by Charles Mackerras, 1951 for the Sadler's Wells Theater.
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