Benjamin Britten - The Collector's Edition (37CD) - 2008, MP3
Artist: Benjamin Britten
Title Of Album: The Collector's Edition (37CD)
Year Of Release: 2008
Label: EMI Classics
Genre: Classical, 20th century
Bitrate: 320 kbps
Total Time: 42:07:07
Total Size: 5,68gb
Along with Sony's Stravinsky box (22 CDs for £17.99) I would class this as one of the most astonishing bargains available in classical CD sets. These 37 CDs cover almost every important work by Britten and find space from some intriguing rarities as well. The performances never fall short of satisfying and are often among the best available. You do miss out, by and large, on performances conducted by Britten himself (he was a Decca artiste latterly, though there are some early recordings here - a little Purcell, some folk song arrangements, the Donne Holy Sonnets and the Michelangelo Sonnets, all recorded in the 1940s for HMV - and all sounding remarkably clear and immediate, with Pears in fine voice). But you have Rattle, Pesek, Iona Brown (excellent Frank Bridge Variations), Isserlis, Hickox, Marriner, Alexander Gibson, Knussen, the Endillion String Quartet, Truls Mork, Hough, Julian Bream, Previn, Soderstrom, Robert Tear, Thomas Allen, Janet Baker, Willcocks, Robert Lloyd, Donald Maxwell, Neil Mackie, Barry Tuckwell, Bedford, Bostridge, Haitink, Goodall and others - not a bad cast. The list of works is almost exhausting (the CDs play for about 42 hours) - you can find it separately on the Web. Of the operas, you have 'Peter Grimes' (Haitink), 'Paul Bunyan', 'The Turn of the Screw', 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (an excellent cast directed by Richard Hickox - wonderful!) and 'The Rape of Lucretia', with some additional scenes from 'Peter Grimes' recorded in 1948 with Peter Pears, Joan Cross and Reginald Goodall. Quality is very high, the CDs come in an adequate box and presentation is good, with a fine photo of Britten at Aldeburgh on the box front and an atmospheric photo on each disc sleeve. The 50-page booklet lists all works, performers and recording dates fully and thoroughly. There are no notes, which might be seen as a disadvantage, but really, when there is so much here for so little outlay, it would seems carping to criticise. Very highly recommended.
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