Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a re-release of pieces that originally appeared on Chandos, and they rank among the catalog's best performances of these standard Benjamin Britten works. Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is based on a theme from Henry Purcell, whose music Britten greatly admired, and makes for an interesting little concerto for orchestra designed to teach young people the sounds of the instruments and how they work together in this grandest of ensembles. Much of Britten's music was written for the theatre where orchestras are necessarily small. This shows up clearly in his Suite of English Folk Tunes "A Time There Was", which is a model of economy and invention. Unlike the melancholy of Ralph Vaughan Williams' folksong collections,
Britten's Suite has elements more bitter and sorrowful than you might expect from such a collection. Britten's Johnson Over Jordan Suite is derived from incidental music to J.B. Priestley's 1939 play. It's filled with dramatic flourishes and themes both inspiring and patriotic (perhaps reflecting the nearness of the approaching war in Europe), and it should be better known.
The showstopper here is Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. And though the orchestral forces are very lean, nothing is lost in this music whose impact is substantial and unforgettable. It helps that both orchestra (the Bournemouth Symphony) and conductor (Richard Hickox) are among the best in Britain, and together they create a performance that fully captures all of the music's moods, from Peter Grimes' loneliness to the depictions of the sea's beauty and cruelty. Another plus is the sound, realistic and appropriately forceful and dynamic, like the sea itself.
--Paul Cook, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Johnson over Jordan: Suite by Benjamin Britten
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
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