Britten: Phaedra; Les Illuminations; Five French Folksong Arrangements

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COMPOSERS: Britten
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Phaedra; Les Illuminations; Five French Folksong Arrangements
PERFORMER: Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano), Jill Gomez (soprano)Endymion Ensemble/John Whitfield
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 65114 2 DDD (1987)
Britten’s dramatic cantata Phaedra is the resonant centre of this new release in EMI’s excellent British Composers series. The steely gleam at the core of Felicity Palmer’s mezzo-soprano, and the hard white light of the Endymion’s outstanding ensemble playing make for a fierce kindling of Britten’s music with Robert Lowell’s words at one exceptional moment in the work’s performing history. John Whitfield’s direction ensures that the Five French Folksongs are nicely poised between raw simplicity and elegant sophistication, while the Endymion’s incisive playing warms to the sensuousness of Jill Gomez’s Les Illuminations. Hilary Finch

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