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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain's greatest composer was a brilliant conductor and pianist., 19 Sep 2013
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Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Britten The Performer (Decca box set) (Audio CD)
Britten was born in Lowestoft,Suffolk,November 22nd 1913,and died in Aldeburgh,4th December 1976 where his Festival began in 1947. He was an all rounder,composer,pianist and conductor.At his festival at Aldeburgh he conducted many of the pieces before they were recorded. Yet this Festival is nothing like Bayreuth,where only Wagners operas are played.All composers,new and traditional are and were heard,including Britten's offerings.

The sturdy Box set is made of hard cardboard,and the lid is attached and covers the box;when it opens you can make it into a tray,placing your CDs you wish to play in it.The cover is exactly as is shown on the Amazon web page.At the back are the CD track numbers and the pieces to be played in white.The sleeves are made of cardboard and will withstand a lot of handling. The CD is easy to pull out of the sleeve.All information is on the back,as is the CD number. The disc is black and has Britten printed in dark cobalt blue,with the performer in a lighter version of this colour.The music pieces are printed in white. Below are the singers and,or the Orchestra and soloist in light blue. The black tend to throw this colour forward. The CD number is on the left handside in white.All the sleeves and discs are exactly the same,no original covers as many seem to like.The box is a bit bigger then a CD sleeve and obviously is wide,but will fit your CD rack nicely.The booklet is rather frail,but that is to be expected.Inside are the CDs and their track numbers,pieces to be played,and dates recorded and where.Then there is an article, 'Britten the performer'by Philip Reed.Here he mentions details of how Britten responded to the composers,and items of interest to the reader.For example,when Britten plays a Mozart Concerto-and we could easily widen concerto to encompass anything by Mozart-"It's not merely as if he had written it,but as if he had written it last night".The sound is by Decca and as you know is excellent.Most CDs are ADD,but where it is not I shall put MONO.I hope you enjoy this box set as I have.

I shall go across the page,not straight down.I shall place the CD numbers first in brackets ,then the composer and music to be played;then soloists;or singers.However, if possible,a review from the Penguin guide,1977,1996 and 2008.Sometimes I shall place my opinion with T next to it.However,I will not mention Britten as this entire box is devoted to him,unless I have to.

(CD 1&2)J.S. BACH:St John Passion(English text:Imogen Holst).Pears,Howell,Shirley-Quirk,Burgess,Hill,Harper,Hodgson and Tear. "Britten characteristically refused to follow any set tradition;and with great extremes of tempo than is common(often strikingly fast) the result makes you listen afresh. The soloists are excellent,and the Wandsworth School boys choir reinforces the freshness of the intepretation. Excellent accompaniment from the ECO,with outstanding continuo playing from Philip Ledger. The recording is vividly atmospheric."(CD 3) J.S BACH: Susser Trost,mein Jesus kommt BWV 151. Harper.Watts,Pears,Shirley-Quirk,Wandsworth School Boys choir. Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben BWV 102. Baker,Pears,Fischer-Dieskau.Aldeburgh Festival Singers."Both are taken from a live performance broadcast by the BBC".Brandenburg Concerto No 1 and No 2.(CD 4).J.S BACH: Bradenburg Concerto no 3,No4,NO5 and No 6. ECO. "In the Brandenburg Concerto's 1-6 the microphones are placed rather close to the players. The result is a big beefy sound that goes well with Britten's interpretations. The bubbling high spirits of the outer movements are hard to resist." (CD 5 & 6).PURCELL:The Fairy Queen. Part 1.Oberon's Birthday.Part2.Night and Silence.Part 3.THe sweet passion.Part 4. Epithalamium.Vyvyan.Bowman,Brett,Pears,Wells,Partridge,Shirley-Quirk,Brannigan,Burrowes,Hodgson.Ambrosian Opera Chorus. "This is a sumptuous offering of some of Purcell's most inspired dramatic music,presented in a newly reshaped version by Britten,Pears and Imogen Holst. The authentic glow of a Malting's performance(1971 vintage) is beautifully conveyed in the playing,the singing and the recording" PURCELL:Celebrate this festival.Birthday Ode for Queen Mary,1693.Harper,Veasey,Bowman,Pears,Shirley-Quirk,Ambrosian Singers. "Britten delivers an absorbing reading" Chacony in G minor for strings.(In Britten's own edition) "This is a very full-bodied account".English Chamber Orchestra(ECO).(CD 7)HAYDN:(MONO)Symphony no 45. Symphony no 55.Cello concerto in C major. Rostropovich,cello. ECO.(CD 8)MOZART: Symphony no 25. Serenata notturma in D Major. Symphony No 29. (CD 9)MOZART: Symphony No 40.Symphony No 38. ECO.No 40 "Totally convincing with the rich Malting's sound to give added weight". No 38. "Here Britten convey's a real sense of occasion from the weighty introduction,through a resilent and glowing account of the Allegro to a full flowing reading of the Andante"(CD 10)MOZART:(ADD)Symphony No 41'Jupiter'.Symphony No 39.(MONO)Si mostra la sorte,Per pieta,non ricercate.Pears,ECO."Both symphonies have fast flowing tempo's with an energy that reminds you of conductors such as Toscanini,Szell and Reiner. In otherwords,this is a marvellous performance.WOW!-T.

(CD 11)MOZART:(MONO)Piano Concerto No12.Britten Piano and Cond. Aldeburgh Festival Orch.Sonata for Piano four hands in C Major. Sonata for two pianos in D Major. Richter and Britten.(CD 12)MOZART: Piano Concerto No 20. Piano Concerto No 27. Clifford Curzon Piano. ECO.(CD 13) SCHUBERT: Symphony No 8 'unfinished'."An individual and refreshing interpretation,beautifully recorded". Sonata for arpeggione and piano in A minor. Rostropovich cello,Britten piano. "the playing of both artists is eloquent and it is beautifully recorded". Possibly the finest ever recorded.(booklet).Andantino varie.Richter and Britten piano duet. DEBUSSY: En blanc et noir.two pianos.(CD 14)SCHUBERT:Fantasy in F minor.Variations in A flat major. Grand duo in C Major.Richter and Britten piano duet."All these electrically intense performances demonstrate,Richter and Britten favoured fast speeds,with phenomenally crisp articulation from both players". Recorded at Aldeburgh.(CD 15)SCHUBERT: Winterreise."What is so striking about Pear's performance is its intensity. One continually has the sense of a live occasion. As for Britten,he recreates the music,but always with a scrupulous concern for overall musical shapping and sense of atmosophere".Earned a rosette from Penguin for being that good.(CD 16)SCHUBERT: Die schone Mullerin-Die Taubenpost. Die Einsame. An der Laute."Pears is imaginative.The Pears/Britten partnership remains uniquely valuable".(CD 17)SCHUMANN:Dichterliebe."Britten brings to the piano part an intense creative understanding unrivalled on any other version"(1977 Penguin guide) SCHUBERT:Im Fruhling.Auf dem Wasser zu singen.Nachtstuck. An die Entfernte. Lachen und Weinen. Abendstern.Das Fischermadchen. Sprache der liebe. Der Einsame. Der Geistertanz. Atys. Auflosung. Nacht und Traume."there are few more radiant collections of Schubert Leider than this,a record to treasure with sound that blooms".(CD 18&19) SCHUMANN:Scene from Goethe's Faust.Fischer-Dieskau. Harwood. Shirley-Quirk. Pears. Vyvyan. Palmer.Lloyd. Hodgson."The power and imagination of much of the music,not least the delightful garden scene and the energetic setting of the final scene are immensely satisfying. Britten inspired his orchestra and his fine cast of singers to vivid performances recorded against the warm Maltings acoustic".ECO.SCHUMANN:Funf Stucke im Volkston. Cello Rostropovich.Britten piano.(CD 20)DELIUS: Summer river on the river. First ever release. Two Aquarelies. BRIDGE: Sir Roger de Coverley.ELGAR:Introduction and Allegro for strings. ECO.The Dream of Gerontius. Part 1.(CD 21)ELGAR:The Dream of Gerontius.Part 2.Pears. Minton. Shirley-Quirk.London Sym Orch."The Britten version brings searching and inspired conducting. Britten's approach is red-blooded,passionate and urgent,and with speeds never languishing-as in this oratorio they can. The recording is made at the Maltings. The soloists are a fine resonsive team. Minton and Shirley-Quirk are both excellent."

(CD 22)SHOSTAKOVICH:cello Sonata.Rostropovich-Cello. 7 Blok Romances.Galina Vishnevskaya-soprano. JANACEK: Pohadka.(CD 23)VAUGHAN WILLIAMS:(MONO) On Wenlock Edge. Pears tenor. Zorian String Quartet.BRIDGE: Phantasie Quartet.Sonata for Cello and Piano. DEBUSSY: Rostropovich -Cello. Britten-piano.(CD 24) GRAINGER:Folksong settings.Shepherds Hey.Willow,Willow. I'm Seventeen Come Sunday. Bold William Taylor. There was a pig went out to dig. My robin is to the Greenwood gone. Lord Maxwells Goodnight. The Duke of Marlborough Fanfare. Let's dance gay in green meadow. Scotch Strathhspey and Reel. The Pretty maid Milkin' her cow. Lisbon. The lost lady found Shallow Brown."This is an altogether delightful anthology,beautifully played and recorded by these distinguished artists."PURCELL: Sweeter than roses.(realized by Britten)."This brief Purcell item is charming"Pears. Shirley-Quirk. Bowman. Ambrosian singers. Britten piano. ECO. HAYDN 6 Canzonettas.Pears. Britten piano.(CD 25) HOLST: Twelve songs."Pears and Britten bring a characteristic creative quality to the performances." The following British songs are every bit as considered as their memorable Lieder.BRIDGE:Tis but a week. Goldenhair. When you are old. So Perverse. Journey's end. Go not,happy day. Love went a riding.BUTTERWORTH: Is my team plouging. MOERAN: In youth is pleasure. WARLOCK:(MONO)Yarmouth fair.IRELAND:The land of Lost Content. The Trellis. Three songs.I have twelve oxen.(MONO onwards)BERKELEY: How love came in. OLDHAM:Three Chinese Lyrics. TIPPETT(ADD). Songs for Ariel.(CD 26)(Bonus CD)SCHUBERT: Ferrier.-contralto.Ganymed . Du liebst mich nicht. Lachen und Weinen.(MONO)The World of Kathleen Ferrier Vol 1&2 Decca. Mahler Das Lied Von der Erde,Ferrier,Patzak,Vienna Philharmonic orch 1952.Naxos.She recorded this Mahler work in pain from the Cancer that was to kill her in 1953.Walter broke down for Ferrier was determined to finish the recording.Der Einsame. Du bist die Ruh. Der Musensohn.Der zurnmenden Diana. Sprache der Liebe.(All MONO) Harfenspieler 111. Dass sie hier gewesen. Der zurnenden Diana.(ALL first release)These three ADD.Harfenspieler 1. Der Musensohn. Du bist die Ruh. Geheimes. Die State. First international CD release.(CD 27) HANDEL: Ode for St Cecilla's Day. Harper,Pears. ECO.Taken from the inaugural concert at Snape Maltings in the presence of the Queen.MOZART: Cosi fan tutte-Overture.Si mostra la sorte propizia. Per pieta,non ricercate. Trauermusik. Symphony no 40. London Sym orch. Unearthed from the Decca archives are unpublished Mozart recordings Britten made with the LSO in Dec 1963 and were not released at the time,because Britten was disatisfied with what was achieved.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, but..., 22 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Britten The Performer (Decca box set) (Audio CD)
Much as I like this release, I'm left wondering how much didn't make the edition, and why? To give one example: on a CD entitled "The 1968 Aldeburgh Festival" there is a superb and well recorded performance of Bridge's Piano Trio no.2 played by Yehudi Menuhin, Maurice Gendron and Benjamin Britten. The Shostakovich 'Romances' op127 with Galina Vishnevskaya, Emanuel Hurwitz, Mstislav Rostropovich and Britten also on that disc does appear. Strange.
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Britten The Performer (Decca box set)
Britten The Performer (Decca box set) by Benjamin Britten (Audio CD - 2013)
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