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Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings; Nocturne; Phaedra [CD]

Benjamin Britten , Steuart Bedford , English Chamber Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Steuart Bedford
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (29 Nov 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0006IGQ6S
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,417 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Serenade, Op. 31: ProloguePhilip Langridge 1:210.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Serenade, Op. 31: PastoralPhilip Langridge 3:130.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Serenade, Op. 31: NocturnePhilip Langridge 3:350.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Serenade, Op. 31: ElegyPhilip Langridge 4:130.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Serenade, Op. 31: DirgePhilip Langridge 3:210.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Serenade, Op. 31: HymnPhilip Langridge 2:000.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Serenade, Op. 31: SonnetPhilip Langridge 3:430.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Serenade, Op. 31: Epilogue (off stage)Philip Langridge 1:390.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Nocturne, Op. 60: On a poet's lips I sleptPhilip Langridge 3:090.69  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Nocturne, Op. 60: Below the thunders of the upper deepPhilip Langridge 2:560.69  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Nocturne, Op. 60: Encintured with a twine of leavesPhilip Langridge 2:480.69  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Nocturne, Op. 60: Midnight's bell goes ting, ting, ting, tingPhilip Langridge 2:300.69  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Nocturne, Op. 60: But that night when on my bed I layPhilip Langridge 2:550.69  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Nocturne, Op. 60: She sleeps on soft, last breaths; but no ghost loomsPhilip Langridge 4:080.69  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Nocturne, Op. 60: What is more gentle than a wind in summer?Philip Langridge 3:410.69  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Nocturne, Op. 60: When most I wink, then do mine eyes best seePhilip Langridge 4:210.69  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Phaedra, Op. 93: Prologue - In May, in brilliant AthensSteuart Bedford 1:240.69  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Phaedra, Op. 93: My lost and dazzled eyesSteuart Bedford 1:010.69  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Phaedra, Op. 93: Venus resigned her altar to my new LordSteuart Bedford0:420.69  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Phaedra, Op. 93: Phaedra in all her madness stands before youSteuart Bedford 1:410.69  Buy MP3 
Listen21. Phaedra, Op. 93: The wife of Theseus loves HippolytusSteuart Bedford 1:270.69  Buy MP3 
Listen22. Phaedra, Op. 93: Oh Gods of wrathSteuart Bedford 2:260.69  Buy MP3 
Listen23. Phaedra, Op. 93: Death to the unhappy's no catastropheSteuart Bedford 1:450.69  Buy MP3 
Listen24. Phaedra, Op. 93: My time's too short, your highnessSteuart Bedford 1:410.69  Buy MP3 
Listen25. Phaedra, Op. 93: Chills already dart along my boiling veinsSteuart Bedford 2:380.69  Buy MP3 


Product Description

CD Composer: Britten,Benjamin

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Here we have reissues of song cycles from the remarkable series of Britten performances originally on the now-defunct Collins Classics, led by Britten specialist Steuart Bedford. (Indeed, in 1975 he conducted the world première of 'Phaedra' with Janet Baker as the mezzo-soprano soloist.) These performances were contained on separate CDs when they first came out in the early 1990s. This one contains the two tenor/orchestra song cycles, 'Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings,' and 'Nocturne,' sung gorgeously by Philip Langridge, as well as the Ann Murray performance of 'Phaedra.' The English Chamber Orchestra, long associated with the music of Britten and the official orchestra of his Aldeburgh Festival, provides the orchestral accompaniments. (I spell all this out because at the time of this writing Amazon has made a mess of listing the musicians involved in these performances.)
There have been many recordings of the 'Serenade,' starting with Peter Pears's with Britten conducting and Dennis Brain playing the complex horn part. More recently there was a terrific performance by tenor John Mark Ainsley. Langridge's performances of both 'Serenade' and 'Nocturne' are more dramatically apt that Ainsley's, I believe. He uses more vocal shading and acts more with the voice without his sound ever becoming unmusical; his diction is a miracle of clarity as well. In 'Elegy,' for instance, when he sings the word 'sick,' he actually sounds sick, whereas Ainsley seems simply to sing the word as any other. This sort of shaping is heard throughout, and considering the heavy dramatic freight of the marvelous poetry in both this cycle and 'Nocturne' (which is a younger brother, on might say, of 'Serenade'), that is entirely admirable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benjamin Britten's Magic Lives Well Beyond the Initial Recordings! 3 Nov 2005
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There are times when composers write works for specific musicians and because of that 'sacred coalition' all other performances and recordings pale. Such is most assuredly not the case for this splendid re-release of a recording made in the 1990s by Steuart Bedford conducting the English Chamber Orchestra and the soloists Philip Langridge, Ann Murray and Frank Lloyd.

Britten wrote the 1943 'Serenade for Tenor, and Strings' for his life partner Peter Pears and horn player Dennis Brain. Though that recording still exists and is excellent, this newer performance by Langridge (who has assumed all of the roles Pears once owned) and horn player Frank Lloyd is in many ways more fresh and delicate and sensitive. Langridge is blessed with not only a lovely tenor voice but also the gift of enunciation that allows every word of the poetry to sing. And the same can be said of the 1958 'Nocturne': Langridge vocal quality at the time of this recording surpasses Pears' gifts of his later years. This is an elegant and soulful performance.

The final piece on this CD is the 1973 'Phaedra' written for Janet Baker and premiered by Steuart Bedford who remains at the helm. Ann Murray is the soloist in a fine and dramatic reading of this rather turgid text. Her voice is rich and eloquent and her enunciation is clear. The sound for this recoding is superb and despite the re-mastering, it remains the envy of the industry. This is a superb recording at a surprisingly inexpensive price. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, November 03
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Super-Budget Entry That Stands with the Best Available 2 May 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Here we have reissues of song cycles from the remarkable series of Britten performances originally on the now-defunct Collins Classics, led by Britten specialist Steuart Bedford. (Indeed, in 1975 he conducted the world première of 'Phaedra' with Janet Baker as the mezzo-soprano soloist.) These performances were contained on separate CDs when they first came out in the early 1990s. This one contains the two tenor/orchestra song cycles, 'Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings,' and 'Nocturne,' sung gorgeously by Philip Langridge, as well as the Ann Murray performance of 'Phaedra.' The English Chamber Orchestra, long associated with the music of Britten and the official orchestra of his Aldeburgh Festival, provides the orchestral accompaniments. (I spell all this out because at the time of this writing Amazon has made a mess of listing the musicians involved in these performances.)

There have been many recordings of the 'Serenade,' starting with Peter Pears's with Britten conducting and Dennis Brain playing the complex horn part. More recently there was a terrific performance by tenor John Mark Ainsley. Langridge's performances of both 'Serenade' and 'Nocturne' are more dramatically apt that Ainsley's, I believe. He uses more vocal shading and acts more with the voice without his sound ever becoming unmusical; his diction is a miracle of clarity as well. In 'Elegy,' for instance, when he sings the word 'sick,' he actually sounds sick, whereas Ainsley seems simply to sing the word as any other. This sort of shaping is heard throughout, and considering the heavy dramatic freight of the marvelous poetry in both this cycle and 'Nocturne' (which is a younger brother, on might say, of 'Serenade'), that is entirely admirable. He is one of the few I've ever heard to actually sound like a cat on the word 'mew' in the Nocturne's 'Midnight's bells go ting, ting, ting, ting.' And yet it is entirely musical. Frank Lloyd, the hornist in the Serenade, is a musician previously unknown to me, but his playing is wonderful. He does not have to take a back seat to either Dennis Brain or Dale Clevenger in their earlier recordings of this marvelous horn part.

Ann Murray fills large shoes when she sings the part premièred (and written for) Dame Janet Baker. Yet she does a fine job* with this rather more etiolated song cycle from Britten's final period. The cycle tells the story of Racine's Phèdre in Robert Lowell's verse translation and Murray's Phaedra becomes an impassioned, even wild, character in this performance.. Although full texts are included for 'Serenade' and 'Nocturne,' for some strange reason the text for 'Phaedra' is not included. A shame, although Murray's diction is clear enough that one can catch most of the words.

Although this issue is at super-budget price, it is worthy to stand beside any prior recordings of these Britten song cycles, and at this price the nod would, for many buyers, go to it.

Recommended.

TT=64:35

Scott Morrison

* Addendum: I've just heard the relatively new recording of 'Phaedra' with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, accompanied by Kent Nagano, and it simply blows away Murray's performance. Incredible singing, acting, diction, orchestral accompaniment. My strong recommendation of the other two pieces stands.
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