A transformative recording of Britten's eerie, touching oper
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 04/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Note: With the transfer of this wonderful recording from the Virgin label, I am reposting my original review.)
As a non-fan of Ian Bostridge and the owner of two very good recordings of 'The Turn of the Screw,' I had avoided buying this new set. Now that I have, I am amazed by its quality. Daniel Harding imparts riveting excitement to Britten's score, but more than that, the psychological intenisty from every singer, beginning with a Narrator who foreshadows the horrors to comes, hasn't been matched in any previous recording. Aided by crystal-clear sonics, each performer gives us every syllable of the all-important text by Myfawmy Piper. This can't be said even of the composer's classic (mono) recording or the excellent version under his disciple Steuart Bedford, where the resonant acoustic tends to garble the words.
This verbal clarity draws one vividly into th cloudy terrors of James's ghost story, one in which extreme psychological states are hinted at but which only occasionally erupt on the surface (in this regard, 'Turn of the Screw' is Britten's mini-version of 'Pelleas and Melisande'). Considering that Harding's conducting outdoes the composer, himself a great conductor, one expects great things from him in the future. The Amazon reviewer makes too much of Bostridge's pretty singing style--the tenor does a lot to change his tone into errie timbres when it's called for, and the very fact that he sounds boyish is creepy in and of itself. In sum, this performance is all but definitive."