Recorded in 1956 and adding two bonus tracks to the original issue, At The Stratford Shakespeare Festival
is one of Oscar Peterson's most celebrated CDs. A definitive set of performances by the pianist's first great trio, with guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown, it abounds no less in melodic harmonic invention than in power. Almost every track is a masterpiece, but particular mention must be made of "How About You", at once electrifying and light-footed, "Swingin' on a Star" (as witty as blistering) and, perhaps especially, the slow-burning, eventually tumultuous "Love You Madly". -- Richard Palmer
Although Peterson, Ellis and Brown recorded many previous dates together as part of larger formations (both as a quartet with different drummers, and as part of groups including winds and singers) since 1952, their first preserved trio set dates from September 19, 1953, when they were recorded at Carnegie Hall during a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. The present performance, recorded in Ontario, Canada, during the city s annual Shakespearean Festival (Peterson was visiting his native country; he was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on August 15, 1925, and died in Ontario, on December 23, 2007, at the age of 82). As Peterson himself explained in the original liner notes, the trio performed at the Festival for two nights, on August 7 and 8, 1956. While the first nine selections of our CD were recorded during the second night (and were issued on the original LP), the last two belong to the initial performance. Peterson considered this one of the best recordings of the trio.