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Britten - Peter Grimes / Pears · C. Watson · Pease · Brannigan · J. Watson · Elms · Studholme · Kells · R. Nilsson · Lanigan · G. Evans · D. Kelly · ROH Covent Garden · Britten

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

cds are free of scratches. Hardly used. May be some handling wear to the cd case.

Amazon.com

Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes not only single-handedly revitalized the genre of English opera, but was also the most profoundly original and dramatically groundbreaking opera in this century and possibly the most significant English dramatic musical work ever written. Its subject, a misfit fisherman whose confrontation with society and its unforgiving rules leads to his ultimate destruction, was a vehicle for more important subthemes, not least of which was Britten's ongoing near-obsession with the nature of innocence and its corruption. The phenomenal impact of Grimes on audiences and performers assured Britten's place as the century's preeminent opera composer, and launched him on the path to creating many more successful stage works. This production, with Peter Pears in the role of Grimes and Britten conducting, remains the definitive recording, with an excellent performance by Pears, for whom the role was created, and fine sound. --David Vernier

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Peter Grimes: Prologue: 'Peter Grimes!' (Hobson)
  2. Peter Grimes: Prologue: 'You Sailed Your Boat Round The Coast' (Swallow)
  3. Peter Grimes: Prologue: 'Peter Grimes, I Here Advise You!' (Swallow)
  4. Peter Grimes: Prologue: 'The Truth...The Pity...And The Truth' (Peter)
  5. Peter Grimes: Prologue: Interlude I
  6. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'Oh! Hang At Open Doors The Net, The Cork'
  7. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'Hi! Give Us A Hand!' (Peter)
  8. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'I Have To Go From Pub To Pub' (Hobson)
  9. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'Let Her Among You Without Fault Cast The First Stone' (Ellen)
  10. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'Look, The Storm Cone' (Balstrode)
  11. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'And Do You Prefer The Strorm' (Balstrode)
  12. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: 'What Harbour Shelters Peace' (Peter)
  13. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 1: Interlude II
  14. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'Past Time To Close!'
  15. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'We Live And Let Live' (Balstrode)
  16. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'Have You Heard? The Cliff Is Down'
  17. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'Now The Great Bear And The Pleiades' (Peter)
  18. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'Old Joe Has Gone Fishing'
  19. Peter Grimes: Act I, Scene 2: 'The Bridge Is Down, We Half Swam Over' (Hobson)

Disc: 2

  1. Peter Grimes: Act II: Interlude III
  2. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'Glitter Of Waves And Glitter Of Sunlight' (Ellen)
  3. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'Let This Be A Holiday' (Ellen)
  4. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'The Unrelenting Work' (Ellen)
  5. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'Fool To Let It Come To This!'
  6. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: ' What Is It?'
  7. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'People!... No! I Will Speak!'
  8. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'We Planned That Their Lives Should Have A New Start' (Ellen)
  9. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'Swallow! Shall We Go And See Grimes In His Hut?
  10. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'Now Is Gossip Put On Trial' (Swallow)
  11. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 1: 'From The Gutter, Why Should We Trouble At Their Ribaldries?
  12. Peter Grimes: Act II: Interlude IV (Passacaglia)
  13. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 2: 'Go There!' (Peter)
  14. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 2: 'Now!...Now!...' (Swallow)
  15. Peter Grimes: Act II, Scene 2: 'Peter Grimes! Nobody Here?'

Disc: 3

  1. Peter Grimes: Act III: Interlude V
  2. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: 'Assign Your Prettiness To Me' (Swallow)
  3. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: Pah! Ahoy!' (Swallow)
  4. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: 'Come Along, Doctor!'
  5. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: 'Embroidery In Childhood Was A Luxury Of Idleness' (Ellen)
  6. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: 'Mister Swallow! Mister Swallow!'
  7. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 1: 'Who Hold Himself Apart, Lets His Pride Rise'
  8. Peter Grimes: Act III: Interlude VI
  9. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 2: 'Grimes! Grimes!'
  10. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 2: 'Peter, We've Come To Take You Home' (Ellen)
  11. Peter Grimes: Act III, Scene 2: To Those Who Pass The Borough'


Product Details

  • Performer: Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, Claire Watson, James Pease, Owen Brannigan, et al.
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0000041QP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,495 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 24, 2000
It is a rare privilege, in classical music, to hear a work performed the way the composer actually wants it to. Here is your chance. Not only does Britten conduct himself but also the wonderful Peter Pears for whom it was written (and who actively participated in the writing of the libretto) sings it.
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.
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This, the first and in my view the best complete recording of Peter Grimes, is unforgettable for a number of reasons, but two in particular. First is that Britten corrects here a number of scoring errors that appeared in the early Boosey & Hawkes edition of his opera (and, sad to say, the one that Jon Vickers insisted on using into the 1980s), and some of these orchestral changes have a marked effect on the music, making it more colorful and interesting. Second is the fact that it is conducted by Britten himself. Other reviewers have pointed out the value of having the composer conduct his own work, and of course that is important; but the other factor to consider is that Britten, though a part-time and often reluctant conductor, was one of the great masters of the baton. The BBC recently issued a series of CDs taken from live broadcasts of the '60s, including marvelous versions of Bridge's "The Sea," Handel's "Ode to St. Cecilia" and the Mahler 4th Symphony, which when heard alongside his commercial recording of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos (still a best-seller and one of the preferred versions after 40 years), testify that this was a conductor who could stand comparison with Walter, Toscanini, Szell and other acknowledged masters. The only known video of Britten in rehearsal (of his own "Nocturne") reveals why: like them he was a nit-picker for detail, accent and phrasing, and if he was not as outwardly temperamental as Toscanini he was just as grueling in working sections or individual players until they got it the way he wanted it.
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).
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As beautiful as they are, even DIDO AND AENEAS and Britten's own BILLY BUDD are just not up to the level of this, Britten's first "major" opera. The theme of an individual hounded by the community is timeless, but the possibility of Grimes's homosexuality makes the opera especially timely for the twentieth century. And have there ever been such beautiful and appropriate interludes, or as sophisticated muscial characterization in ANY national operatic tradition? The great gossip scene in Act II is a case in point: ever striking Ellen, Grimes cries out the phrase, "And may God have mercy upon me" and exits, as his phrase is taken up in a round through the different sections of the orchestra, mirroring the way the gossip is about to spread. Then the other characters exit their houses to address Ellen and one another, each using the same musical phrase as Grimes's, but using it severally to express eloquently all manner of things. First we hear it as frightened chiding at Ellen's indulgent behavior towards Peter, then as a sarcastic commentary on the town's likely propensity to gossip, then (finally) as the gossip itself about the attack, which gathers greater and greater momentum until the townspeople are almost hysterical with indignation.
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.
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Peter Pears had a voice that you either loved or hated, but all of the major Britten tenor roles were written for him, and to my mind, that makes him the definitive Grimes. Pears only other real competition is Jon Vickers on the Phillips twofer. Both are masterful interpretations, but where Vickers makes his Grimes completely unhinged, Pears brings out more of the humanity in the role than any other performance that I've heard. Pears Grimes is odd, and a definate outsider, but he doesn't become totally nuts till the end of the work. As a result, there is more depth in the portrait than in the Vickers version, marvelous though that is as well.
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.
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