Britten: Albert Herring / Bedford, Et Al

Release Date: 3/18/2003
Label: Naxos
Catalog Number: 8660107-08
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: Northern Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 2

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$23.99
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 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
Works on This Recording
1. Albert Herring, Op. 39 by Benjamin Britten
Performer: Robert Lloyd (Bass), Susan Gritton (Soprano), Peter Savidge (Baritone), Felicity Palmer (Soprano), Gerald Finley (Baritone), Josephine Barstow (Soprano), Christopher Gillett (Tenor), Stuart Kale (Tenor), Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano), Ann [Mezzo Soprano] Taylor (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1947 ; England
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