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Britain's greatest composer was Benjamin Britten.,
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This review is from: Britten: The Complete Works (Decca box set) (Audio CD)
Britten was born on the 22nd November 1913 in Lowestoft.He died 4th December 1976 in Aldeburgh, where his festival is still held.He was supported by protective friends.But as Bernstein stated"that Britten was a man at odds with the World".For he was a pacifist and homosexual,which caused him to feel oppressed,isolated and alienated. These feelings he worked out in his opera's such as Peter Grimes.( I have reviewed as many of the CD's as I can).However,Britten was remarkably sensitive which is shown in the Serenade for tenor,horn and strings.He found British music of the time, too conservative and British musical training too amateurish. He prefered the European model.Britten's' favourite composers were Purcell,Mozart,Schubert,Mahler and Shostatokovich,also,Far Eastern music such as Balinese and Japanese music.He was a gifted composer and pianist;see Britten the performer.Eventually,he was considered part of the establishment,but I think that was to disguise his relationship with Peter Pears. His War Requiem portray's his real feelings about that subject.(St James Encyclopedia Eds Guinn and Stone.Britten, a life in the 20th Century,Kildea.)
A big blue tough cardboard box with a lid, with two holes cut out, so you can lift it;covers the entire box.Inside the box, the sides and bottom are entirely covered with black foam to protect the CD's.Beneath the box is the limited edition number,mine is:O2440/3000.Also,which companies are involved in this project,such as EMI,Virgin,Warner, Naxos,Coro etc.For example,CD 1-20 sleeves and CD are Cobalt blue with a design of a wharf and a boat on the sleeves.The difference is that near the middle, the tonal values of the sleeves become lighter,until white,then gradually back to cobalt blue. This is the same for all sleeves. CD 21-32 Stage and screen,Powder blue;Voices CD 33-48 violet;CD 49-61 instruments light Emerald green;CD 62-65 Bonus material grey and DVD black.So when you look down on the open box,you see sleeves that look like blocks of colour,with different tonal values. There are four books,one for each section,which gives you a chapter on what Britten meant;or various items of interest regarding the pieces of music;track numbers,synopsis of the operas.In the booklet voices, there are even English translations of the French and Italian song cycles.How about that.Plus black and white pictures of items of interest.The Sleeve has the CD number on the right hand side.The piece to be played,on the back with track numbers and the music played.The CD has the CD number and details of the music.Do not lose the booklets for it has all the details,but not the sleeves,or CDs. The Hard cover book is about Britten,also Index with the piece of music and CD track number.Plenty of pictures as well.The box contains all the music commercially released as of now.When a box set has been released by Decca,the sound is the best available,especically this limited release.Just try out Decca's New analogue set and you will see what I mean.
I will go across the page with CD number,opera,or music to be played,orchestra and conductor.If it is Britten I will not mention him.The reviews will be from Penguin classical guides 1977,1993,1996 and 2008,also,Gramophone classical guide 2009.My opinions will have T.
CD 1 &2) Paul Bunyan;Lawless,Dressen,Elisabeth Nelson. Orch of Plymouth Music series,Minnesota,cond Brunelle."This excellent set deserves the prizes it won for the Virgin Classics label now part of EMI"(CD 3&4)Peter Grimes; Pears Watson,Pease,Brannigan,Geraint Evans.Orch of Royal opera house,Covent Garden.Won a Penguin rosette for its all round excellence-T(CD 5 &6)The Rape of Lucretia;Pears,Harper, Shirley-Quirk.Luxon,Baker,Bainbridge.ECO."Baker as Lucretia conveys her part with passionate conviction."(CD 7&8) Albert Herring;Fisher,Noble,Brannigan,
Rex,ECO."The comedy comes over with an immediacy and sense of presence." (CD 9&10)Billy Budd;Glossop,Pears,Shirley-Quirk. LSO." the singers makes these symbol figures believable."(CD 11&12) Gloriana;Barstow,Langridge,Delia Jones,Orchestra of Welsh National opera,cond Charles Mackerras." a crowning achievement in the complete cycle of Britten opera begun by himself."(CD 13 &14)The Turn of the Screw;(mono)Pears,Vyvyan,Hemmings,Cross.English opera Group Orch.""With such sound,the claustrophobic quality of this weird ghost story is intensified."(CD 15 &16) A Midsummer's night dream; Deller,Harwood,Pears,Veasey,Harper,Shirley-Quirk,Watts,Brannigan.LSO."Britten's own version sets standards all round almost impossible for any rival to outshine."(17&18)Owen Wingrave;Pears,Fisher,Harper,Vyvyan,Baker,Luxon,Shirley-Quirk.ECO.(19 & 20)"After the trials of the TV recording this record was made, and the result is even more concentrated and compelling." Death in Venice:Shirley-Quirk,Bowman ECO cond Bedford."The whole presentation makes this a set to establish the work as the very culmination of Britten's cycle of operas".
STAGE and SCREEN:
(CD 21&22)Gay The Beggar's opera arr Britten;Langridge,Lloyd,Murray,Rawnsley,Kenny,Aldeburgh Cond Bedford.""The team is a strong and characterful one.(CD 23 )Noye's Fludde; Brannigan,Rex,English Opera Group Orchestra, Norman Del Mar.The Golden Vanity"Not only the professional choristers but the children have the time of their lives."(CD 24)Curlew River(1st parable):Pears,Shirley-Quirk,music under the direction of Britten and Tunnard."the works success stems mainly from the vividness of the atmosphere within a monastery setting."(CD 25)The Burning Fiery Furnace(2nd parable);Pears,Shirley-Quirk,Tear. Music under the direction of Britten and Tunnard.Decca served Britten in providing definitive versions of his major scores for the guidance of all future performers,as well as for our enjoyment at home".(CD 26) The Prodigal son;Pears,Shirley-Quirk,Tear,Music under the direction of Britten and Tunnard.(3rd Parable for Church performance)."The last of the set of parables is the sunniest and most heartwarming.An ideal performance"(CD 27)The little sweep.(Lets make an Opera).Children's Crusade;Hemmings,Vyvyan,English Opera group Orch.(Mono)."The fizzing vitality comes over very vividly."(28 &29)The Prince of The Pagodas;Orchestra of The Royal Opera house,Covent Garden."This 1957 version in stereo sounds astonishingly well.A lovely ballet score written after Brittens return from the Far East where he found the Balinese gamelan orch."(CD 30) Film scores.Night Mail. The Tocher.The kings stamp. Negroes. The way to the sea.Men behind the Meters.Coal Face."It was an important development in Britten's career in the mid 1930's when he wrote music for the GPO and Strand films. He learned how to use a handful of players to produce amazingly original results.Brabbins conducts the Birmingham players in brilliant performances."(CD 31)Love from a stranger. BBC Orch Cond van Steen. Johnson over Jordan ECO cond Bedford.The rescue of Penelope;Baker, Hagley.Wyn-Rogers, Ainsley.halle orch Cond Nagano."A valuable addition to the Britten oeuvre."(CD 32) The company of Heaven.ECO cond Brunelle. the sword in the stone.Cond Goehr.
(CD 33) The War Requiem:Vishnevskaya,Pears,Fischer-Dieskau,LSO.For the first time ever, all audio processing has been achieved in the 96kHZ 24 bit domain.A Penguin rosette for the excellent performance."The recorded performance comes near the ideal."(CD 34)Spring Symphony;Vyvyan,Procter,Pears.Orch of the Royal Opera House,Covent Garden."Vyvyan and Pears are outstanding,Britten shows that no conductor is more vital in his music then he himself."Cantata Academica;Vyvyan,Watts,Pears,Brannigan.LSO Cond Malcolm. "Is a work of Joy." Hymn To St Cecilia,LSO
Cond Malcolm."A brilliant Auden setting."(CD 35)Saint Nicolas;Pears,Hemmings,Aldeburgh Festival Choir and Orch.(Mono)."Brittens first recordings of his own works have a freshness and vigor unsurpassed since."Five Flower Songs.Elizabetian Singers.Cantata misericordium,Pears,Fischer-Dieskau,LSO (CD 36) A boy was born."Britten at his freshest." Corpus Christi Carol.A Wealden Trio. The Sycamore Tree. A Shepherd's Carol. Christ's Nativity-Christmas
Suite for Chorus.BBC Singers Cond Bedford.A Ceremony of Carols. "One of Britten's most spontaneous of works" The Holly and the Ivy (CD 37)Songs from "Friday afternoons"."Was written for a school where his brother was headmaster"Psalms 150."Setting was done for the centenary of his own former school in Suffolk". Three two part songs. Two Part songs. The Birds(1934).a Hymn to the Virgin.Jubilate Deo. Te Deum in C.Ledger.Deus in Adutorium meum. A.M.D.G. London Sinfonfonietta Chorus, cond Edwards.(CD 38)Rejoice in the Lamb.Ballad of little Musgrave and Lady Barnard. Chorale after an old French carol. Festival Te Deum. St Johns College, Cambridge.guest.A Wedding Anthem.The 16 Harry Christophers.A hymn To St peter. Choir of St John's college. Guest.Antiphon-The 16,Christophers.Missa brevis.The Choir of St John's college,Cambridge.Guest."Has a striking excellence of style."(CD 39) Jubilate Deo. The Choir of St John's College,Cambridge.Guest.A Hymn of St Columba. Voices for Today;The Choir of Kings College,Cambridge.Sacred and Profane,The Wilbye Consort.Praise We Great Men. Tear,Willard White.City Of Birmingham Symphony Orch.(CD 40)Quartre Chansons Francaises. Jill Gomez.City of Bimingham Symphony Orch Simon Rattle.Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal.Mackie,Barry Tuckwell. Scottish Chamber Orch. Cond Bedford.Our Hunting Fathers. Soderstrom."a committed soloist." Orch Welsh National Opera. Cond Armstrong."(Serenade for Tenor,horn and strings. Pears,Tuckwell,LSO.(CD 41) Les Illuminations.Pears.ECO) "This pairing on the disc is recommended to all who have yet to discover the magic of Britten's music".Nocturne Pears.Strings of the LSO."Full of memorable moments". Phaedra.Baker.ECO.Cond Bedford."Britten's last Vocal work,dedicated to Baker who convey's the heroine's agony,whose singing is beautiful and intense."(CD 42) Canticles 1.My beloved is mine. 2. Abraham and Isaac. 3. Still falls the Rain.4. Journey of the Magi.5. The death of St Narcussus."A beautiful collection."(CD 43) The Song Cycles 1. The heart of the matter.Tit for Tat. "Shirley-Quirk.The first singer of this cycle". On this Island. Bonney soprano, Martineau piano.Four Cabaret Songs. Hughes mezzo, Martineau. Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo.Peter Pears."This cycle was recorded when Pears voice was at its freshest and most appealing."(CD 44)The Song Cycles 2. The Holy Sonnets of John Donne.Pears.A Charm of Lullabies. Bowden Contralto. Gllhorn Piano.(mono).Winter Words." Tiny operas.Dramatic vignettes." Pears.(CD 45)The Song Cycles 3. Six Holderlin Fragments. Pears.Songs and proverbs of William Blake. Fischer-Dieskau,The Poets Echo; Vishnevskaya soprano, piano Rostropovich.Who are these children. Pears. (CD 46)Early and Miscellaneous songs. two Ballads for two voices and piano.Six settings of W.H.Auden.(CD 47)Folksongs 1.(CD 48) Folksongs 2.Tear.Langridge. Lott.Osian Ellis.Graham Johnson.
(CD 49) Sinfonietta.Simple symphony for String Orch. Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge.ECO." An example of Britten at his most convinving and spontaneous in the recording studio".Soirees musicales.Matinees musicales. National Phil orch Bonynge.(CD 50). Rondo Concertante.Northern Cond Zehetmair. Two portraits.Double Concerto in B minor.Kremer.Halle Orch Cond Negano.Movements for a Clarinet Concerto. Collins Northern Sinfonia. Cond Zehetmair.(CD 51)Piano Concerto. Violin Concerto. Richter,Lubotsky.ECO. (CD 52).Mont Juic.ECO Cond Bedford.Young Apollo.Canadian Carnival City of Birmingham Sym Orch.Cond Rattle.Sinfonia da requiem New Phil Orch.(CD 53) Scottish Ballad. An American Overture City of Birmingham Sym Orch.Cond Rattle.Prelude and Fugue for 18 part orch ECO. The Young Person's guide to the Orch.LSO. Men of Goodwill. Minnesota orch Neville Marriner.(CD 54) Cello Concerto. Rostropovich cello. ECO.The building of the House overture. ECO. Suite on English Folk tunesa." A time there was." City of Birmingham Sym Orch. Cond Rattle.Lachrymae.Tomter Viola Norwegian Chamber orch. Iona Brown.(CD 55). Reflection for viola and piano. Elegy.Suite for Violin and orch. Reville for violin and piano. Two insect pieces. Six Metamorphoses after Ovid.(CD 56) Cello Suite No 1. Cello Suite No 2. Cello sonata in C. Rostropovich Cello. (CD 57)Cello Suite No 3. Robert Cohen.Suite for Harp. Osian Harp. string Quartet No 3. Amadeus string quartet. Tema "Sacher" for Solo cello. Alisa Weilerstein. cello.(CD 58)String Quartet in F major. Utrecht String Quartet.Miniature Suite. Emperor Quartet. Quartettino Phantasy in F minor. Alla march. Three Divertimenti for string Quartet.Endellion String Quartet.(CD 59) String Quartet in D major.Gabrieli string Quartet.String QuarteT No i Allegri string Quartet. string Quartet No 2. Amedeus string Quartet. (CD 60) Quartet for oboe,violin,viola and cello. members of the Gabrieli string quartet.gemini Variations.(CD 61) Five waltzes. a little Idyll. Three Character pieces. two Lullabies.Stephan Hough, Goldstone, Ronan o'Hara piano's.(
CD 62) Making music with Britten-a memoir.(CD 63) War Requiem-rehearsal. (CD 64) Historical recordings (1944-1953) (CD 65) Supplementary recordings (1955-1989) (DVD) the 1967 recording of the Burning Fiery Furnace.A film by Tony Palmer.