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Britten: Songs
Format: Audio CDChange
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 April 2013
Britten was a prolific writer of English songs, but he was disinclined to have any association with the 'Pastoral School' (which included Vaughan Williams, Finzi and Gurney). In fact, he once remarked that 'the best way to make me like Elgar is to listen to him after Vaughan Williams'.

Instead, Britten looked back to the golden age of English music, and stated that his aim was to 'try to restore to the musical setting of the English language a brilliance, freedom and vitality that have been curiously rare since the death of Purcell'.

On this disc we have not only English songs, but settings of Italian and German texts too, as well as a translation from the Chinese. The Michelangelo Sonnets were dedicated to Pears, whilst the Songs from the Chinese were written to be accompanied by guitar as a tribute to Pears' association with Julian Bream.

Ian Bostridge's collaboration with Antonio Pappano runs from the opera stage to the more intimate lieder recital, and over the years it's developed into a very close partnership. Pappano's instinctual reaction to Bostridge's mood is acute; the colours and textures he forms at times tease, at times soothe the singer. The interplay between the partners can be gentle or capricious, but they are bound as one here.

Xufei Yang is Bostridge's partner in the Arthur Waley translations from the Chinese, again supporting with an intuitive feeling for the somewhat melancholy intensity in these songs.

The loss of childhood innocence and sense of wonder is a theme which occurs again and again in Britten's music, and it's conveyed here with fragility and purity which is at times overwhelmingly poignant. It can also be heartbreaking, for instance in the setting of Hardy's 'Midnight on the Great Western' from Winter Words, where the lonely journeying boy looks forward to a destination he knows not where.

Bostridge himself seems to have absorbed this music to the core; the words fall as from the lips of the poet, the music a direct response as if from the composer's own soul. This is surely one of the recording highlights of the Britten Centenary.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2014
Bostridge delivers Britten with meaning. A perfect match between the quality of his voice and the character of Britten's music.
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on 10 May 2015
Stunning!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2013
Ian Bostridge has such a wonderul voice. Being used to Peter Pears one could compare, but I was never tempted to. This recording stands on its own
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2013
This was a present for my husband who has great regard for Ian Bostridge's voice. We both enjoy the CD.
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3 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2013
Will people please stop trying to sound convincing when in praise of Ian Bostridge! Alongside previous interpretations of this brilliant music - Peter Pears, Philip Langridge Robert Tear etc etc etc - these are the efforts of a veritable second- / third- rater with questionable intonation and poor voice production. Those who have had the misfortune of seeing this man live in concert will be able to relate to the moments when he writhes on stage - even shouts! Let's get it straight and be real; this man is in no way a good interpretater of these masterpieces......
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