on 21 March 2015
yes - a recent purchase as i didn't have a recording of Britten's Variation on a theme of Frank Bridge and wanted to compare Davis here with Previns 1960's recording of Four Sea Interludes. the good news here is that this cd boasts vivid and dynamic sound and playing by the BBC SO under Andrew Davis of arguably some of the best ever British non-symphonic orchestral music.
the Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra is one of Britten's best known works (ie its light ,melodic and easily enjoyed for many) starts this apex cd in sprightly style although a little lacking in emotional substance for my tastes.
the Variations (on Bridge) is the for me real surprise and major addition to my knowledge of Britten's music ( i love his String Quartets, Cello Sonata, Serenade for Tenor and Violin Concerto). its as played here - tremendously exciting orchestral music with plenty of Britten's flair for balancing dark edged string writing on the progressive early 20th C composition with rhythmic and inventive multifaceted textures. quite a find for this Britten fan.
final work is the equally terrific Four Sea Interludes (from the Opera: Henry Grimes) again receives excellent full blooded playing and sound is at times the dynamics are a little exaggerated . Previn's recording on EMI is my first choice for its greater flow and depth of expression. think of Debussy's La Mer meets Shostakovich possibly..a deeply expressive orchestral score.
four stars going on five, and in a word this cd is Terrific.
This is a nicely priced budget CD presenting some of Britten's most popular orchestral pieces.
I bought this for “The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra” which is included here mercifully without any celebrity narration – as a proper piece for grown-ups it's a far more substantial work than it's often given credit for - in my opinion - and one of my favourite works by the composer. The “Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge” wasn't a piece I was familiar with, but is certainly a fine and involving work - a pleasant discovery for me. The “Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia” from “Peter Grimes” function well as mood pieces extracted from the opera and are – I should think – very familiar to classical listeners as they have been included in many live concerts and broadcasts over the years - “Dawn” especially gets used regularly as background music in TV documentaries etc..
The performances on this disc By Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are really very good indeed, and the sound recording is excellent.
A real bargain and a good selection of Britten's orchestral work for both the novice and more experienced listener. Well worth having in your music library.
The playing time is just a little under 68 minutes.