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Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
Format: Audio CDChange
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2012
It is sometimes said that the composer of a work is not the best person to conduct its performance. In this case, this assertion could not be more incorrect. In fact, in the case of his 'Variations on a Theme of Franck Bridge', Britten's performance with the ECO is the only one I have heard that completely expresses the subtle changes of mood of each variation, and captures the cerebral atmosphere of the composition.

I have read some reviews complaining the 'Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra' has no spoken introduction to each piece. For me this a great relief, because intermittant talking would spoil the music. Better to think of the work by its sub-title of 'Variations and Fugue on a theme of Henry Purcell' and to appreciate it as a mature composition.

In summary, this is the definitive disc of these works by Benjamin Britten.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This disc compiles recordings originally published in 1964 (YPG), 1968 (Variations) and 1969 (SS). Britten was renowned for being an excellent conductor of his own work and so it transpires here. Decca provide recordings that have survived the passing of time very well and these give a pleasing mixture of glow plus brilliance. Both of these characteristics reproduce the playing of the musicians of course.

The three works on this disc are among the most easily accessed works that Britten composed and together they make a most attractive package. The Young Person's Guide sparkles with brilliant playing by members of the LSO and this is probably the most satisfying performance available on disc regardless of its age. The recording is very vivid with lots of 'presence.' It needs to be noted that this is the orchestral concert version without the additional descriptive script.

The Variations also offers superlative playing from the strings of the ECO and here there is a glowing sumptuousness added to the recording which is totally appropriate to the music. The Simple Symphony likewise gets wonderful playing.

All these pieces gain immeasurably from Britten's skilful direction. To say that his readings are perceptive or show enormous empathy seems ridiculous bearing in mind that he wrote the music, but that is exactly where these recordings score over all the competition.

Definitive recordings are generally doubtful descriptions given the wealth of recorded material now available, but in this case one is sorely tempted to use that description.

I would therefore suggest that collectors of either multiple versions or just single versions would do well to consider this disc as a priority option.

I would therefore suggest that collectors of either multiple versions or just single versions would do well to consider this disc as a priority option.
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If you're new to Britten, like me, a shock is in store. BB interprets Bach as well as anyone, but is also a significant composer. Lots of joy in this piece to!
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