Notes and Editorial Reviews
Benjamin Britten's first work for the stage--an operetta written in collaboration with W. H. Auden during their American sojourn in the late 1930s and early '40s--was also his most richly lyrical. Throughout the piece, Britten reaches far and wide for vernacular musical material (sincere blues, country-western, popular song) with tremendous musical and dramatic effect. This is an irresistibly charming, touching, and often very funny piece. Not even the hardest of hearts will be able to resist this music's undeniable appeal.
The acclaimed Richard Hickox conducts an outstanding cast of singer-actors and, thankfully, he does not "wink-and-nudge" this story. Quite on the contrary, he throws himself and his cast into both the humor and the
pathos of the story. While there is not a weak link in the very large cast, the essential "glue" provided by the Narrator makes one all the more grateful for the wonderfully expressive performance of Peter Coleman-Wright.
American Record Guide (7-8/00, pp.100-01) - "...'Bunyan' is of an extreme hybrid nature, somewhere between musical and opera, between drama and farce, between entertainment and polemic...[M]uch more than just a clever work[, i]t is a deeply serious one, often quite poetic..."
Opera News (4/00, p.83) - "...Hickox displays an unerring touch for the precise balance, articulation, pacing and color that will create magic, again and again. In his hands the true Britten 'voice' comes through... establishing Paul Bunyan as a worthwhile companion to his other works..." Read less
Works on This Recording
Paul Bunyan, Op. 17 by Benjamin Britten
Pamela Helen Stephen (Mezzo Soprano),
Leah-Marian Jones (Mezzo Soprano),
Graeme Broadbent (Baritone),
Francis Egerton (Tenor),
Jeremy White (Bass),
Peter Coleman-Wright (Baritone),
Roderick Earle (Bass),
Lillian Watson (Soprano),
Kenneth Cranham (Spoken Vocals),
Timothy Robinson (Tenor),
Susan Gritton (Soprano),
Kurt Streit (Tenor)
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1941; USA
Date of Recording: 04/1999
Venue: Live Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, England
Length: 110 Minutes 31 Secs.
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