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The Britten-Pears Collection [6 DVDs]

Release Date: 07/13/2010 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001445909  
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenJohn GayWolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz Schubert,   ... 
Performer:  Michael RipponPeter PearsHeather HarperOwen Brannigan,   ... 
Conductor:  Benjamin BrittenSir Charles MackerrasMeredith Davies
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraAmbrosian ChorusEnglish Chamber Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

These historic 60's and 70's BBC films, locked away in the BBC archiv, are now being released! They have been carefully restored by the BBC restoration unit, and are in the best possible audio and visual condition. They include several key and unique performances of Peter Pears, which were not filmed anywhere else.


Peter Grimes
"This DVD is as close as we’ll ever get to seeing how the originators visualized Peter Grimes. It has Peter Pears in the title role he created and Britten conducting with the staging by Joan Cross, the original Ellen Orford. But it was made 24 years after the original and Owen Brannigan’s Swallow was the only other survivor from the first cast. And it’s a BBC
Read more recording for television presentation rather than an opera house staging, but in essence it still captures the way Britten wanted the opera to appear.
Right from the Prologue inquest Pears’ Grimes comes across as an independent spirit with a dignity formed from hard circumstances and inner anguish which bursts out at ‘The case goes on in people’s minds’. He is apart from the hubbub which is the townsfolk and token justice, Britten’s wry attitude to which is confirmed by his playful orchestration. What is more striking and natural to television is the intimacy of the duet between Peter and Ellen, a contrast from the rigmarole of the Borough (Aldeburgh) townsfolk taking time to leave in close-up...This earliest complete visual representation of Peter Grimes isn’t just a valuable benchmark by which to judge its successors but an eloquent performance in its own right whose quality I appreciated more at a second viewing."
-- Michael Greenhalgh, MusicWeb International

Billy Budd
The first of the groundbreaking television productions of Britten’s operas, Billy Budd was staged by Basil Coleman, who had produced both the opera’s premieres at the Royal Opera House – that of the original four-Act version, and of the revised two-Act version performed here. Using the BBC’s two-studio technique, he created massive, painstakingly authentic settings on a 1770s man-o’-war. With 1960s monochrome and flat lighting, it’s hardly Master and Commander, but its fluency and shifting viewpoints are still striking today, far in advance of stage telecasts, and the coherent atmosphere undoubtedly enhances the drama onscreen. Charles Mackerras maintains both the score’s gusty energy and claustrophobic tension, with an equally intense cast. Peter Pears inhabits rather than acts Captain Vere, the anguished scholar-warrior to the life. Grimly sonorous, Michael Langdon (himself an ex-petty officer) makes Claggart appear Vere’s dark mirror, brutish but keenly self-aware. Peter Glossop’s rather mature but jovially natural Billy remains the finest voice I know in this role. Officers and crew are equally impressive, from John Shirley-Quirk’s Redburn to the youthful Robert Tear and Benjamin Luxon as Novice and Friend.
-- Michael Scott Rohan, BBC Music Magazine

There is much about this performance that is irreplaceable. To begin with, Britten’s conducting. Some might call it “old fashioned,” for it certainly isn’t in sync with today’s HIP scholarship (but then, neither am I). It is richly colored, highly nuanced, rhythmically firm while retaining great lyricism and breadth, and above all impassioned. It may be that the circumstances of the performance post-fire inspired Britten and everyone else, but this is an Idomeneo that jumps off the screen and engages the viewer completely.
"[T]he singing is excellent, in particular the three ladies. (Britten uses Mozart’s original casting of Idamante as a mezzo instead of the composer’s revision of the role for tenor—I, too, prefer Mozart’s first thoughts, as the latter version gives us three tenors in important roles, which is one tenor too much.) Anne Pashley sings wonderfully, though she would never convince anyone that she is actually a male. All of the other roles are handled superbly, and there is a great feeling of ensemble about the performance...Brian Large’s camera direction is just what we’ve come to expect from one of the preeminent television directors for opera and classical music—not fussy, very musical and sensitive... The 1969 sound is extremely well balanced and natural, with a very good voice/orchestra perspective. This is a very worthwhile and valuable document of a treasurable performance of Idomeneo."
-- Henry Fogel, Fanfare

Schubert: Winterreise; Britten: Folk Songs
"Lieder encourages intimacy, and no composer’s more so than Schubert’s, a fact that Britten and Pears are all too aware of. Both artists felt a special affinity towards Schubert, and Britten was particularly conscious of a debt as a composer, not just as a performer, to the extent that the song cycles might almost have been his own music. Characterized by directness of approach rather than deference to a specific performing tradition, their music-making speaks from the heart...The folk-song arrangements convey atmosphere in every bar: hear Britten’s accompaniment to “Foggy, Foggy Dew” as proof of this. Pears’s highlight, though, is found in “Tom Bowling,” a song brought alive by his attention to breath control. If all this were not sufficient reason, Britten’s arrangement of Purcell’s Man Is for the Woman Made would be reason enough to invest in this DVD, given the energy of the performance it receives."
-- Evan Dickerson, Fanfare
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Works on This Recording

Peter Grimes, Op. 33 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Michael Rippon (Baritone), Peter Pears (Tenor), Heather Harper (Soprano),
Owen Brannigan (Bass), Anne Pashley (Soprano), Elizabeth Bainbridge (Mezzo Soprano),
David Bowman (Baritone)
Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; England 
Billy Budd, Op. 50 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Nigel Rogers (Tenor), Dennis Wicks (Bass), Peter Pears (Tenor),
Peter Glossop (Baritone), John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone), Michael Langdon (Bass),
David Kelly (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951/1960; England 
Owen Wingrave, Op. 85 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Heather Harper (Soprano), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano),
Benjamin Luxon (Baritone), Nigel Douglas (Tenor), John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; England 
Beggar's Opera by John Gay
Performer:  Kenneth McKellard (Voice), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano), David Kelly (Bass),
Heather Harper (Soprano), Bernard Dickerson (Tenor), Bryan Drake (Baritone)
Conductor:  Meredith Davies
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1728; England 
Idomeneo, K 366 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Heather Harper (Soprano), Robert Tear (Tenor), Peter Pears (Tenor),
Anthony Williams (Bass), Anne Pashley (Soprano), Rae Woodland (Soprano)
Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  English Opera Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Munich, Germany 
Language: English 
Winterreise, D 911/Op. 89 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria 
Mock Marriage, Z 605: Man is for the woman made by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
The foggy, foggy dew by Traditional
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Written: England 
O waly, waly by Traditional
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Written: England 
Tom Bowling by Charles Dibdin
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1789; England 
Sally in our Alley by Traditional
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)
Written: England 
Sweet Polly Oliver by Traditional
Performer:  Peter Pears (Tenor), Benjamin Britten (Piano)

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