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Britten: Albert Herring / Bedford, Et Al

Release Date: 03/18/2003 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660107-08   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Stuart KaleSusan GrittonJosephine BarstowChristopher Gillett,   ... 
Conductor:  Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Naxos is to be congratulated for rescuing this 1996 recording from oblivion; it was originally released on Collins Classics but disappeared a few years ago. It remains the finest performance of the opera available. With all due respect to the composer's own recording, the old Decca sound was annoyingly boxy and Peter Pears seemed not quite right as Albert. This last statement may be seen as heresy, but when Albert breaks out of the mold and re-appears a changed boy/man in the last act, Pears never let loose enough. Christopher Gillett on this set is ideal--stifled and shy and aware that he's missing out on almost everything early on, but in full bloom by the end. I also prefer Josephine Barstow's self-righteous Lady Billows to Sylvia Read more Fisher's, although a bit less full-throated singing from Barstow would be welcome: she often sounds as if she's shouting.

Susan Gritton is a Miss Wordsworth of impeccable credentials (as she herself might say), Robert Lloyd's Superintendant Budd is properly stuffy and outraged, and Felicity Palmer, as the gossip-mongering housekeeper Florence Pike, is as arrogantly arch as possible. Della Jones gets into the character of Albert's hectoring mother with ease and panache. As the sexy Sid and Nancy, Gerald Finley and Ann Taylor are as natural as can be. Steuart Bedford leads the Northern Sinfonia in a clear, clean, brisk, pointed performance. It is utterly lean, which makes the ultra-mock-tragic threnody in the last act all the more outlandish. At Naxos' price, even if you don't know this opera, it's worth looking into. Comedy is a side of Britten that rarely emerged; but when he let it out, it blossomed handsomely.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Albert Herring, Op. 39 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Stuart Kale (Tenor), Susan Gritton (Soprano), Josephine Barstow (Soprano),
Christopher Gillett (Tenor), Felicity Palmer (Soprano), Robert Lloyd (Bass),
Peter Savidge (Baritone), Gerald Finley (Baritone), Ann [Mezzo Soprano] Taylor (Mezzo Soprano),
Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 

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