Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings; Our Hunting Fathers; O Waly, Waly; Oliver Cromwell

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Britten
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings; Our Hunting Fathers; O Waly, Waly; Oliver Cromwell
PERFORMER: Ian Bostridge (tenor), Marie Luise Neunecker (horn); Bamberg SO/Ingo Metzmacher, Britten Sinfonia/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56871 2 Reissue (1996, 1998)
A gift of a compilation, this: Bostridge’s fine recordings of two major Britten cycles juxtaposed. His is the only male-voice Our Hunting Fathers in the catalogue; and for this, and for an audacious imaginative virtuosity the equal of the Thirties Britten himself, it is very much a benchmark recording in its own right. When it comes to the Serenade, there is more competition. I have a personal fondness for Anthony Rolfe Johnson’s recording, which fuses the robustness of Robert Tear with the plangent English lyricism of the great original, Peter Pears. Bostridge’s performance, with its unique luminescence and word-keen beauty, is the true successor to the Pears/Britten classic which has to remain the benchmark recording. Bostridge also offers, as a bonus, two Britten folksong settings: his strong and plain-speaking ‘O waly, waly’, and a viciously tongue-twisting ‘Oliver Cromwell’ as a final kick in the teeth. Hilary Finch

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