Search - Benjamin Britten, Steuart Bedford, English Chamber Orchestra :: Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra; Death in Venice (Suite)

Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra; Death in Venice (Suite)
Benjamin Britten, Steuart Bedford, English Chamber Orchestra
Britten: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra; Death in Venice (Suite)
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1


      
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CD Reviews

Quite magnificent
G.D. | Norway | 02/09/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is something of a must-have - I haven't heard, and I don't expect to hear, a better performance of Britten's masterly Cello Symphony, nor of the - admittedly less interesting - coupling. The symphony for cello and orchestra had, inexplicably, a mixed reception when it was first performed, but seems to have risen in stature since then. And it should, for it is a marvelous piece with stirring themes, which are developed with mastery and ingenuity. It breathes the air of Schubert and Mahler, yet is thoroughly Britten himself, from the evocative opening with the soloist's multiple-stoppings overlay descending scales in the bass and the magical second theme og the same movement, through atmospheric middle movements (including the solo third one) to the powerful Passacaglia that brings the work to a magnificent close.

Wallfisch's ability to draw out colors and nuances and to maintain focus through the whole gamut of the argument is second to none I've heard - even Rostropovich more emotionally charged performance comes across as diffuse in comparison. And Wallfisch is certainly helped by the fabulous playing of the (expanded) English Chamber Orchestra under the sure hand of Steuart Bedford - who seems to have an unerring view of the overall structure without ever missing the textural or rhythmic details. The performances glow and sparkle, progressing to a fiery blaze in the last movement.

I admit to caring less for Bedford's suite from Death in Venice - partly because the opera itself is one of Britten's less immediately attractive ones. Still, it grows on repeated listening, and Bedford's arrangement is certainly skillful, giving vocal parts to a variety of instruments (tastefully) and turning the disparate themes and snippets into a relatively convincing, unified whole. It is marvelously played, however, and the sound quality - both in the suite and in the Cello Symphony - is demonstration class still, despite being recorded in 1984. A thoroughly magnificent disc, urgently recommended."