What can I say about this amazing album? Britten was a brilliant composer, and his music always takes my breath away, but this has been my first thorough exposure to song cycles. The two cycles in this album contain such variety! There's something about the prologue and final song of "Our Hunting Fathers" that gives me such a chill, perhaps knowing that it was a pacifist comment on WWII. But in the middle is the weepy, perhaps mocking "Messaline," bracketed by my favorites, "Rats Away" and "Dance of Death", both of which have elements of chaos, terror and humor, particularly because of Bostridge's excellent singing style, fully comprehending the depth of meaning behind every syllable and note he sings (and sounding like he must thoroughly enjoy the fun of singing them!) The Serenade's "Elegy" and "Nocturne" are also rather ominous, frightening, gripping, and thrilling! The horn solos, (prologue and epilogue) are melancholy and beautiful. (How does Britten know how to bring out the best in every voice and instrument?) In the middle of the album, "Waly, waly" (The Water is Wide) is performed touchingly, with such sympathy in Bostridge's singing and in Britten's setting of the accompaniment. And "Oliver Cromwell" at the end cannot fail to bring a smile of laughter to your face! Overall, the album is full of everything you could ask from Britten and Bostridge, a perfect combination. Essential!