Notes and Editorial Reviews
Perhaps the chief downside of the success of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas is that all other British light operas are judged adversely against them. On any appreciation of its positive virtues, a work such as Edward German's Merrie England deserves our attention. Of course it's old-fashioned; but it has great charm, with some delightful melodies and fluent vocal and orchestral writing. Numbers such as "Love is meant to make us glad", "The Yeomen of England", "0 peaceful England", "Dan Cupid hath a garden" and "Who shall say that love is cruel?" are just some of its more obvious attractions.
Though not actually a stage cast recording, this virtually complete version dates from the time of the 1960 Sadler's Wells revival and features several members of that company. Patricia Kern, William McAlpine, Peter Glossop and Howell Glynne were among the company's leading lights, and here they sing the rewarding numbers with great distinction and commendably straight. In the leading role June Bronhill has one of those distinctive voices that one either likes or doesn't - a little inclined to squeakiness - but she is always extremely characterful and produces beautiful phrasing and enunciation. Curiously the supporting roles are swapped around between singers, which does not help for continuity of characterization. Yet on any count this is a most welcome reissue of the only recording of this work.
-- Gramophone [4/1996]