WORKS: Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings; The Heart of the Matter
PERFORMER: Neil Mackie (tenor), Peter Pears (speaker), Barry Tuckwell (horn), Roger Vignoles (piano); Scottish CO/Steuart Bedford
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 74346 2 Reissue (1987, 1988)
‘When in the world will the cold heart take fire?’ Edith Sitwell’s question is voiced, inimitably, by an elderly Peter Pears in readings recorded by the BBC shortly before his death. They were movingly threaded through EMI’s 1986 recording of The Heart of the Matter, and the invaluable package now reappears on a double compilation disc featuring the beautifully and gently sympathetic singing of tenor Neil Mackie.
After a now classic performance of the Serenade, the second disc focuses on Britten’s orchestrations: pungent Purcell; the wartime arrangements of Schubert and Schumann (a bubbling whirlpool of a ‘Die Forelle’, a heady, throbbing ‘Frühlingsnacht’); and a frisky performance of that irresistible musical carousel which is Britten’s Rossini Suite. Hilary Finch