Notes and Editorial Reviews
Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes owes its existence to the culminating events of the composer's and Peter Pears' three-year sojourn in the U.S., between 1939 and 1942. A busy, creatively challenging, often tumultuous, and occasionally frustrating and disappointing time (the failure of his opera Paul Bunyan, for one, the difficult living and working conditions in Brooklyn and California, for another, not to mention the discontent with his absence back home in war-ravaged Britain), it nevertheless led Britten to emerge from a period of near-inactivity in late 1941 to single-handedly revitalize the genre of English opera.
Peter Grimes arguably is the most profoundly original and dramatically groundbreaking opera of the
20th century, and possibly the most significant English dramatic musical work ever written. Its subject, a misfit fisherman whose confrontation with society and its unforgiving rules leads to his ultimate destruction, was a vehicle for more important subthemes, not least of which was Britten's ongoing near-obsession with the nature of innocence and its corruption. The phenomenal impact of Grimes on audiences and performers assured Britten's place as the century's preeminent opera composer, and launched him on the path to creating many more successful stage works. This production, with Britten conducting and Peter Pears in the role of Grimes, remains the definitive recording, with an excellent performance by Pears, for whom the role was created, and support by Claire Watson, Owen Brannigan, and the Orchestra and Chorus of Covent Garden.
The sound on this new Decca "Originals" issue remains consistent with David Hurwitz's description of this set's Decca Legends 2001 CD release (type Q2980 in Search Reviews): "The remastered recording offers little improvement over the excellently transferred original." Happily, unlike that earlier package, this one comes with a libretto and substantial notes on the opera. Essential! [10/17/2006]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Peter Grimes, Op. 33 by Benjamin Britten
Peter Pears (Tenor),
David [bass baritone] Kelly (Bass),
Lauris Elms (Mezzo Soprano),
Claire Watson (Soprano),
James Pease (Baritone),
Sir Geraint Evans (Baritone),
Iris Kells (Soprano),
Jean Watson (Alto),
Raymond Nilsson (Tenor),
John Lanigan (Tenor),
Marion Studholme (Soprano),
Owen Brannigan (Bass),
Marcus Norman (Voice)
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1944-1945; England
Date of Recording: 12/1958
Venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, Engla
Length: 144 Minutes 22 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: England (1944 - 1945).
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