My goodness, what a wonderfully satisfying cd. Unfortunately, the label is not easy to come by, and one or two of the reviews were muted about this recording when it first appeared. However, I am very, very glad indeed that I decided to make up my own mind.
The Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings is now available in many versions and, of all Briten's works, this has probably done than any other to extend his reputation beyond this island. There are now recordings of this work by Pregardien (BIS) and Schreier, and Rattle has recently released a superb recording with Bostridege and the Berlin Phil, no less.
For my money, Toby Spence has produced a ravishing recording and need fear no comparisions with Bostridge at his mannered best. Spence was a senational success at the recent production of Barber of Seville at Covent Garden, but this recording confirms him as a substantial musician and artist, with his very own contribution to make.
The recording also features the Frank Bridge variations, to show case the Scottish Ensemble. The movement "Chant" impressed me the most - it really is the most accomplished picture in sound, though elsewhere the ensemble is a little leaner than some.
This cd is worth the purchase price for the Serenade alone - Toby Spence's performance is ravishing. Beautifully and sensitively done, with a highly intelligent use of language and vibrato. Wonderful! Now, what about a solo recital disc (Hahn, Poulenc, Barber?)
o, and technically, the sound quality of the cd is fablous (sacd hybrid)