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Britten: Sinfonia da Requeim, Sea Interludes; Holst: Perfect Fool, Egdon Heath / Previn


Release Date: 10/07/2003 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 62616   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenGustav Holst
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

These late era analogue recordings are likely to be well known to many who collected LPs in the 1970s although they will not be quite as familiar as the contents of some of the other GROC series discs.

These are stereo ADD recordings. In the case of the Britten Sinfonia and the Grimes episodes the recordings derive from an LP first issued in dual compatible stereo and SQ quad. That LP was a celebrated hi-fi artefact with the clean satin openness of the LSO strings almost as impressive as the crashingly captured climaxes, growling, thunderous and metallic. Every sound is accommodated in a grand acoustic. I still have the LP. The grunt and gasp of this famous recording can be heard instantly at the start of the Sinfonia. Its
Read more subtle splendour and lively brightness is specially evident in the Dies Irae (tr. 2) which rips along, brightly catching every half-light and sounding remarkably like Malcolm Arnold! Cripes! There are some superb French horns at 1.42 in that track. They are caught in all their roughened and rollicking glory.

I still have the Britten LP - the cover of which is nostalgically reproduced on the front of the booklet. I'll wager that most people’s LPs had more play on the Grimes side than the Sinfonia. Is there anyone who does not know the Grimes Interludes now? The violins, ‘in excelsis’, in Dawn are captured in pristine magnificence. The patterning of Sunday Morning, with its stylised church bells, rings out in chilly definition contrasting with the warm hesitations of Moonlight. Storm which perhaps lumbers a mite at Previn's initial speed. This is all the better to celebrate the eye-of-the-storm peace at 2.55. This pacific interlude resolves into the thunderous descent steps that close the movement. They sound, for all the world, like the precipitous avalanche at the end of the first movement of Bax’s Sixth (compare the Lloyd-Jones, Naxos version). The Passacaglia ‘anhang’ to the Grimes Interludes has a telling symphonic-tragic gravity. This it shares with Berkeley's Nocturne (which I will keep promoting until someone - preferably Vernon Handley - records it). This reading has exceptional steely strength and concentration. In Previn's hands it also sounds somewhat like Malcolm Arnold. Finally it sinks resignedly into the silence from which it emerged.

The two Holst pieces are nicely contrasted. The dances from the Perfect Fool demonstrate Holst the showman. Egdon Heath gives us Holst the deeply serious philosopher - expounder of the grim and bitterly triumphant the quintessence of Hardy.

Previn is in harmonious sympathy with the Britten pieces but his Holst is awkward. Previn, orchestra and recording make some lovely noises but there is little sense of easy flow and natural address. Compare this with old recordings such as Sargent’s and Boult's of the Perfect Fool dances; Previn just misses the underlying beat of this music. It is not that you won't enjoy this; it is splendid but it could have been so much more. By the way it is such a pity that the complete opera, which is at least as diverting as the recently issued RVW Poisoned Kiss (Chandos), has not been recorded. Outstanding broadcasts by Groves (1972) and Handley (1995) on BBC Radio 3 confirm the work as a spirited brilliant comedy; by no means the tired deadbeat effort that some claim for it. After that we need a complete Holst Sita!

A brave decision to end the disc with morose-tragic Egdon Heath - a most understated piece in which the massed grey and black clouds make a bridge to eternity and life's comedies and tragedies - Hardy-style. Previn is much better in this than in the other piece. It has something in common with the Grimes - Passacaglia.

This well filled and 'ART' re-mastered CD carries strong supportive commentary from Achenbach.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International [5/2004]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; England 
2.
Peter Grimes: Sea Interludes (4), Op. 33a by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; England 
3.
Peter Grimes: Passacaglia, Op. 33b by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; England 
4.
Egdon Heath, Op. 47/H 172 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; England 
5.
The Perfect Fool, Op. 39/H 150: Ballet Music by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1922; England 

Sound Samples

Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20 (2003 Digital Remaster): I. Lacrymosa (Andante ben misurato) -
Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20 (2003 Digital Remaster): II. Dies irae (Allegro con fuoco) -
Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20 (2003 Digital Remaster): III. Requiem aeternam (Andante molto tranquillo)
Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (2003 Digital Remaster): I. Dawn (Lento e tranquillo)
Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (2003 Digital Remaster): II. Sunday Morning (Allegro spiritoso)
Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (2003 Digital Remaster): III. Moonlight (Andante comodo e rubato)
Four Sea Interludes Op. 33a (from Peter Grimes) (2003 Digital Remaster): IV. Storm (Presto con fuoco)
Passacaglia Op. 33b (from Peter Grimes) (2003 Digital Remaster)
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Andante -
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Earth (Moderato - Andante) -
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Water (Allegretto)
The Perfect Fool H150 (Op. 39) - Ballet music (2003 Digital Remaster): Dance of Spirits of Fire (Allegro moderato)
Egdon Heath (Homage to Thomas Hardy) H172 (Op. 47) (2003 Digital Remaster)

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