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Britten: Music For Voice & Guitar / Peter Pears, Julian Bream


Release Date: 01/31/2012 
Label:  Newton Classics   Catalog #: 8802095  
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenMátyás SeiberPeter Racine FrickerSir William Walton
Performer:  Peter PearsJulian Bream
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BRITTEN Songs from the Chinese. Folk Song Arrangements: Master Kilby. The Shooting of His Dear. Sailor-Boy. I Will Give My Love an Apple. The Soldier and the Sailor. Gloriana: Second Lute Song of the Earl of Sussex. Nocturnal. WALTON Anon in Love. SEIBER 4 French Folk Songs & Peter Pears Read more (t); Julian Bream (gtr) NEWTON 8802095 (61:42)


& FRICKER O mistress mine


All but one of these pieces, the Britten Nocturnal, were recorded in March and September 1963 and issued on an RCA Victor LP that had absolutely abysmal sound. This was during one of the label’s experimental periods, when it was apparently attempting (as was EMI at the time) to emulate Decca-London tunnel sound, and in addition was using a truly evil form of pressing they were pleased to call Dynagroove. I really hated the sound of RCA Dynagroove. The LPs had a bad swishing sound, and the pressings began to blast and wear out after three or four playings. Since this LP was no exception, I had to get rid of it many years ago, and so am very happy to have it back in my collection.


One listen to this disc will show why. These are really marvelous performances all around, and as in the Decca-London LP of Elizabethan lute songs with Bream, the collaboration was a truly special one. (Pears told me once that the LPs he made with Bream were among the real highlights of his entire career.) One listen to the first 12 tracks of this CD will show why: Bream’s clean, incisive attack, almost jaunty (and, in the case of Sailor-Boy , fairly close to jazz feeling) and loaded with feeling, is among the most thrilling things ever recorded in the classical repertoire. Only the Romeros are in the same league as Bream. That’s how good he was.


Moreover, Newton’s remastering has magically removed the blemishes of Dynagroove, presenting us with clear, clean pressings of pristine quality. RCA’s engineers used just enough reverb to give a nice sheen to Pears’s voice (better recorded here, to be honest, than it often was on Decca) and Bream’s crystalline guitar work. Moreover Pears’s diction, sometimes criticized, is very clear here, something I couldn’t tell on the original LP pressing because of the over-reverberant sound. Both tenor and guitarist, for instance, master the tricky rhythms and difficult nuance of Walton’s Anon in Love with aplomb.


At the time I owned the LP, I didn’t know who Mátyás Seiber was. I’ve since learned that he was an extremely interesting educator and composer who loved jazz as much as classical music, and in fact taught the first established course on jazz in a European conservatory (Frankfurt, in 1927). He also collaborated with big-band leader John Dankworth in 1958 to compose Improvisation for Jazz Band and Symphony Orchestra, one of the more successful jazz-classical hybrids of its time. These French folk-song settings are more conventional, albeit using some modern classical harmonies and chord positions in lieu of the originals.


The Nocturnal was written for Bream as an extended guitar solo based on John Dowland’s Come, Heavy Sleep . Britten said that Nocturnal contained “some very, to me, disturbing images. … Dowland was a person who perhaps even consciously realized the importance of dreams.” Needless to say, Bream meets all of the music’s technical and emotional challenges, giving us a treasurable and even unique experience.


Because this CD is not merely great but unique, representing as it does clearly authentic performances of Britten’s music by the performers it was composed for, this disc is not merely recommended, but shoots to the top of my Want List for the year.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs from the Chinese, Op. 58 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; England 
2.
Folksongs (6), Volume 6: no 3, Master Kilby by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julian Bream (Guitar), Peter Pears (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
3.
Folksongs (6), Volume 6: no 6, The Shooting of his Dear by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julian Bream (Guitar), Peter Pears (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956-1958; England 
4.
Folksongs (6), Volume 6: no 2, Sailor-boy by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julian Bream (Guitar), Peter Pears (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
5.
Folksongs (6), Volume 6: no 1, I will give my love an apple by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
6.
Folksongs (6), Volume 6: no 5, The soldier and the sailor by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julian Bream (Guitar), Peter Pears (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
7.
Gloriana, Op. 53: Second Lute Song of the Earl of Essex by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
8.
French Folksongs (4) by Mátyás Seiber
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
9.
O Mistress Mine by Peter Racine Fricker
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
10.
Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; England 
11.
Anon in Love by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Julian Bream (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; England 

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