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Britten: Simple Sym / Four Sea Interludes Import
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All these superb Decca recordings of the music of Britten were made in 1953. All of the few Britten recordings made by Eugene Goossens have now been released on Decca Eloquence. Remodelled on themes he wrote as a boy, the Simple Symphony's undeniable charm and charisma have ensured it a constant place in repertoire enjoyed not only by children but by adults too. Much the same goes for the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, and this Van Beinum recording, one of the work's earliest, was something of a demonstration CD for it's day. It was coupled with the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes as well as the Passacaglia, and the latter, much requested, now receives it's first issue on Decca CD. Britten recording the Sinfonia da Requiem twice, first in September 1953 with Danish forces and then more than ten years later in December 1964 with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Andrew Porter, reviewing the earlier recording in the February 1955 issue of the Gramophone declared that it 'could hardly be bettered'. Some 55 years on, it makes it's first appearance on CD. "... a really superb issue... The orchestra play the music with great virtuosity, which never becomes mere display, and with an obvious enjoyment." - Gramophone (Van Beinum recordings).
Top Customer Reviews
By Michael Brad Richman on July 6, 2015
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The Australian Eloquence series has a wonderful history of rescuing classic yet overlooked recordings from Decca's vast vaults, and this disc featuring the music of Benjamin Britten continues that tradition. These 1953 recordings are all in mono, but for collectors they are a precious opportunity to hear the composer himself conduct, and also the chance to hear his works performed by conductors who championed his music as a contemporary. The important document here is Britten's own performance of his Sinfonia da Requiem, which he reprised in 1964 on Britten: Cello Symphony, op. 68; Sinfonia da Requiem, op. 20; Cantata misericordium, op. 69. This is the first time the original account has been available on CD and it is fascinating to compare/contrast it to the later stereo performance. I am most familiar with Britten's own accounts of his major works, so it is equally enjoyable to hear two conductors as impressive as Goossens and Van Beinum perform the Simple Symphony, and the Young Person's Guide and selections from Peter Grimes respectively. It was especially refreshing to hear YPG without narration, a distinction that in more recent years generally comes when it is titled as "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell," as most 50s/60s renditions used it as a teaching tool and not purely for musical enjoyment. One of these days Australian Decca is going to run out of gems to reissue, but here's hoping that isn't anytime soon.
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