LABELS: BBC Legends
WORKS: The Sea; Enter Spring
PERFORMER: Richard Adeney (flute), Peter Graeme (oboe); Chorus of East Anglian Choirs, ECO, LSO, New Philharmonia Orchestra/Benjamin Britten, Imogen Holst
CATALOGUE NO: BBCB 8007-2 ADD mono/stereo
Those who know and love Britten’s outstanding commercial recordings of the music of other composers will not be surprised that both these releases provide many revelations.
Take the 1971 performance of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture , where Britten’s interpretation not only inspires a marvellous transparency of texture and a wonderful sense of melodic line but also generates white-heat intensity in the spine-tingling accelerando at the climax to the work. In contrast, the rather stately tempi adopted for the two Symphonies by Mozart and Haydn may sound out of sorts with current performance practice, though once again the shaping of the line and the orchestral clarity compel immense admiration.
The disc of British orchestral music is invaluable in offering one of the first and most urgent performances of Britten’s Overture The Building of the House. According to the booklet notes, the occasion generated so much tension that the chorus actually sung their first entry a semitone high, yet this minor blip seems of little account. While Britten appears to be less engaged by the bleak landscape of Holst’s Egdon Heath, the two richly scored orchestral works by Bridge are simply marvellous – a deeply-felt tribute from a great composer to his mentor. Erik Levi