Britten - Peter Grimes / Pears · C. Watson · Pease · Brannigan · J. Watson · Elms · Studholme · Kells · R. Nilsson · Lanigan · G. Evans · D. Kelly · ROH Covent Garden · Britten
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This opera, like others of the 20th century really marries theater and music. Unlike Puccini or Verdi where appalling librettos are made acceptable by wonderful music (can you get any worse than the words to "Che gelida mannina"?), Peter Grimes is a full blooded story, and the music accompanies it wondefully.
The atmospheres of fear (the storm) or complacency (the final dawn) are depicted in the music in a way difficult to match.
Britten is one of those underrated allrounders who builds the sounds to match the action and the feelings like few people do.
This rendition is impeccable and well rehearsed and the sound bears the Decca quality of the 50s which is really hard to find.
Pears gives a heartbreaking rendering of a misunderstood and isolated man who finds himself the victim of his own ambition to prove himself worthy of the society that despises him.
Vickers' more recent version is very good. But get the real masters and see what they really wanted. This recording will make your hairs stand on end and make you regret that you weren't in Saddler's Wells back in the 50s.
As for the cast on this recording, they are quite fine, even if Peter Pears' voice was more solid and more beautiful on the 1946 excerpts conducted by Reginald Goodall (EMI).Read more ›
On the only other major recording of this opera (with Jon Vickers in the title role), this stunning sequence is bizarrely interrupted between CDs; although this set is considerably more expensive, its more proper distribution among CDs makes it infinitely preferable. Also, although the other set has a superbly romantic Grimes in Vickers, the role nonetheless was specifically written for Peter Pears, who sings here with great purity of tone. This is a famous historic recording: no 20th-century opera buff's collection is complete without it.
Britten is a supreme interpreter of his own work, something that few other composers have been able to do well. (Only Stravinsky and Boulez come to mind as comparable.) And the work itself is a milestone in contemporary opera. If you are new to this opera, this CD is a good place to start, though I do also highly recommend the Vickers twofer on Phillips with Colin Davis conducting.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This particular recording is a must have for all opera lovers. Being conducted by Benjamin Britten himself and sung by Peter Pears, there's a lot that one can learn from this... Read morePublished on March 25, 2008 by M. Garza
There have been many productions of Grimes around the world and a good few recordings made since this first one was committed to disc nearly half a century ago. Read morePublished on July 18, 2006 by Klingsor Tristan
As a musician myself I feel that sometimes I overly criticise performances and recordings, perhaps digging a little too deep to try and find hidden weaknesses which detract from... Read morePublished on March 8, 2003 by Matthew Haworth
This is probably the greatest British opera of the 20th century, and this recording features a majority of the artists for whom Britten wrote the opera, most notably his partner... Read morePublished on May 22, 2001