Peter Pears


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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Dame Janet Baker (The Angel), John Shirley Quirk (The Priest & The Angel of the agony) & Peter Pears (Gerontius)

London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Sir Adrian Boult

Sir Adrian Boult was a supreme interpreter of Elgar’s music, winning accolades and awards for performances and recordings. Boult championed his music throughout his conducting life following the composer’s prophetic words in a letter to Boult in 1920, ‘I feel that my reputation in the future is safe in your hands’.

Boult only made one recording of The Dream of Gerontius, in 1975, of which the Penguin Guide enthused, ‘Boult’s total dedication is matched by his powerful sense of drama…the spiritual feeling is intense throughout’ while The Gramophone Guide ended their review with ‘Boult directs with commendable energy and typical humanity. A document to be treasured.’

This DVD represents the only existing film of Boult conducting The Dream of Gerontius filmed in Canterbury Cathedral in 1968.

The performance features a stellar cast of soloists: Dame Janet Baker, a leading interpreter of The Angel in The Dream of Gerontius, who recorded the role twice, in 1964 in Sir John Barbirolli’s famous recording, and in 1986 under Sir Simon Rattle; John Shirley Quirk who, with Boult, recorded a definitive interpretation of Peter in The Kingdom and about whom Boult said” J.S.-Q. […] was perfection and I don’t think any of the old guard could surpass [him]”; Peter Pears, who recorded the work in 1972 under the direction of his close friend Benjamin Britten.

The film uses the original BBC master which is far superior to the poor copies which have been in circulation over the years.

This was the first classical music production filmed in colour, for which Brian Large, “an understanding musician as well as a brilliant producer” in Boult’s words, had secured eight out of the nine colour T.V. cameras existing in the UK at that time. This DVD also features a 60-minute documentary on Sir Adrian Boult as a bonus. This film was produced in 1989 by the BBC to celebrate Sir Adrian Boult’s 100th anniversary.

The booklet includes a note written by Andrew Neil, from the Elgar Society, as well as a long extract from Sir Adrian Boult’s biography in which Boult gave his extended insight on the filming. The booklet also includes the sung text in English.

DVD format: NTSC

Picture format: 4:3

Running time: 100 mins (feature); 60 mins (bonus)

Subtitles: None

Menu languages: English

Booklet languages: English

Region code: 0

Territory Restrictions: None

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DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

ica classics - ICAD5140

(DVD Video - 2 discs)


Scheduled for release on 30 September 2016. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Alfred Deller (Oberon), Jennifer Vyvyan (Tytania), Leonide Massine II (Puck), Kevin Platts (Cobweb), Robert McCutcheon (Mustardseed), Barry Ferguson (Moth), Michael Bauer (Peaseblossom), George Maran (Lysander), Thomas Hemsley (Demetrius), Marjorie Thomas (Hermia), April Cantelo (Helena), Forbes Robinson (Theseus), Johanna Peters (Hippolyta), Owen Brannigan (Bottom), Norman Lumsden (Quince), Peter Pears (Flute), David Kelly (Snug), Edward Byles (Snout), Joseph Ward (Starveling)

London Symphony Orchestra, Choirs of Downside & Emanuel Schools, Benjamin Britten

World premiere, recorded in the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, 11 June 1960 First ever release.

At first glance, Britten’s discography of his own operas leaves little to be desired. His recorded legacy covers practically his entire output in recordings under his own direction, with his favourite artists, produced to still-legendary standards. And yet, as magnificent as the official recordings are, many do not feature the singers who created important roles; and sometimes even when the interpretations do come from the source the published versions are from a few crucial years downstream. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is no exception. It was composed at breakneck speed for the reopening in 1960 of Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall, a tiny theatre by operatic standards, seating just over 300. It would soon move to the rather more capacious Covent Garden (and for that matter within the following year to Hamburg, Zurich, Berlin, Pforzheim, Milan, Vancouver, Gothenburg, Edinburgh, Schwetzingen and Tokyo) – finally reaching a commercial recording in 1966 under very different circumstances from those in which it was created. Perhaps the greatest single asset of the 1960 recording, though, is the chance to hear Alfred Deller’s very earliest performance as Oberon. Deller’s inclusion in the cast was one of Britten’s most original inspirations: nowadays counter-tenor roles are an essential part of the operatic palette in old and new music alike and gifted singers to sing them are plentiful, but just a few decades ago a counter-tenor was an exotic beast indeed. Sir Michael Tippett wrote of first hearing Deller’s voice: ‘In that moment the centuries rolled back’. For us, half a century and more already rolls back when we hear Deller in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Deller’s voice is ironically now a historical phenomenon in itself.

Britten’s own interpretation of the opera would broaden over the years. Here the ink on the score is barely dry and some passages are unforgettably urgent: Oberon and Tytania’s opening duet has a compelling sweep, and the Act II quarrel of the lovers has an extra tinge of danger. The glorious choruses which end the second and third acts would certainly be given more time in later performances, but not always either to their benefit or to the advantage of the whole: ‘On the ground, sleep sound’ is all the more poignant if it, as here, never becomes static, and Puck’s epilogue can sound a little tacked-on if ‘Now until the break of day’ is allowed to wallow. Fortunately, there is no need to choose. We are all the richer for having two such distinct approaches to the opera in its early history at our disposal and since they both come direct from the composer himself, perhaps the not always helpful concept of a ‘definitive recording’ can usefully be called into question.

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Testament - SBT21515

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Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes

Peter Pears (Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Marion Studholme, Iris Kells (Nieces)

Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

The project was produced by John Culshaw in stereo’s early prime. Taking full advantage of this then-revolutionary stereo technology, members of the cast moved around a sonic ‘stage’ that Decca’s engineers created, giving the recording a new sense of presence and

More than any other opera recording, this helped to launch the fortunes of Britten's operas and remains one of the most exemplary ever made.

“Almost 60 years on, Britten's own recording is still fresh. His conducting has great naturalness and the sound is amazing for 1958.” BBC Music Magazine

“The Covent Garden Orchestra rise superbly to their task and indeed one is left with an impression of the entire cast, of everybody concerned, being inspired by the presence and direction of the composer…The balance is remarkably good.” Gramophone Magazine

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Decca - 4830401

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Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex

Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex

Jean Cocteau (narrator), Peter Pears (Oedipus), Heinz Rehfuss (Creon/Messenger), Otto von Rohr (Tiresias), Martha Mödl (Jocasta), Helmut Krebs (Shepherd)

Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne Radio Symphony Chorus, Igor Stravinsky

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Sony - G0100034675136

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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Sir Peter Pears (tenor), David Ward (bass), Helen Watts (contralto), Elizabeth Harwood (soprano), Lindsay Heather (baritone), Robert Tear (tenor), Alexander Young (tenor), Brian Etheridge (baritone), Hervey Alan (bass)

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Philomusica of London, Sir David Willcocks

Argo - 4789530

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Great British Tenors

Great British Tenors


La fleur que tu m'avais jetée (from Carmen)


Hiawatha's Wedding Feast: Onaway! Awake, beloved!

Eleanore (No. 6 from Six Songs, Op. 37)


Merrie England: Dan Cupid hath a garden "The English Rose"


Patiently smiling from The Land of Smiles

A heart as pure as gold (from Friederike)

Lehmann, L:

Ah, moon of my delight


Vesti la giubba (from I Pagliacci)


Instant charmant … En fermant les yeux (from Manon)


Elijah: Then shall the righteous


Hears not my Phillis how the birds ('The Knotting Song'), Z371


Love's Philosophy, Op. 3 No. 1 (Shelley)

O mistress mine


An Sylvia, D891

Auf der Bruck, D853

Im Frühling, D882

Sullivan, A:

Take a pair of sparkling eyes (from The Gondoliers)


The briery bush

The Foggy, Foggy Dew

Vaughan Williams:

Hugh the drover: Song of the road

The Vagabond (from Songs of Travel)


Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (from Die Walküre)

Wallace, W V:

Yes! let me like a soldier fall


As ever I saw

White, M:

To Mary

Ben Davies, John Coates, Gerwase Elwes, Walter Hyde, Frank Mullings, John McCormack, Joseph Hislop, Parry Jones, Hubert Eisdell, Tudor Davies, Walter Widdop, Derek Oldham, Heddle Nash, James Johnston, Henry Wendon, Webster Booth, Peter Pears, David Lloyd, Walter Midgley, Richard Lewis

Commercial recording arrived at the ideal time to capture a golden age of British tenor singing. A range of distinctive qualities had developed in the 19th century – firm yet elegant tone, emphasis on text and on clarity of diction – that characterised the British tenor voice. The worlds of opera, operetta, oratorio and popular song nourished the tradition and benefited from the succession of fine voices the country produced. The recordings presented here capture some of the most important voices of the early 20th century, and demonstrate the range of musical styles in which the British tenor sound could flourish.

This issue secures a unique position in today’s CD market.

Heritage - HTGCD286



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Mátyás Seiber: Ulysses, Elegy for Viola & Three Fragments

Mátyás Seiber: Ulysses, Elegy for Viola & Three Fragments


Three Fragments from 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'

Peter Pears (narrator)

Dorian Singers & Melos Ensemble, Mátyás Seiber

Elegy for solo viola and small orchestra

Cecil Aronowitz (viola)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mátyás Seiber


BBC Archive Performance, broadcast 21 May 1972

Alexander Young (tenor)

London Symphony Orchestra & BBC Chorus, David Atherton

Born in Budapest on 4 May 1905, Mátyás Seiber began to learn the cello at the age of ten. He studied composition at the Budapest Academy of Music under Kodály from 1919 to 1924. In 1925 he entered his 'Serenade' for wind sextet in a Budapest competition and when it failed to win the prize, Bartók resigned from the jury in protest.

In 1935 Seiber settled in London, where he founded the Dorian Singers and helped Francis Chagrin to found the Society for the Promotion of New Music. He taught at Morley College and privately, and his pupils included Don Banks, Peter Racine Fricker, Anthony Gilbert, Malcolm Lipkin, David Lumsdaine, Anthony Milner and Hugh Wood. Seiber stayed in touch with continental musical developments and frequently attended the International Society for Contemporary Music’s festivals, several of which featured his own compositions.

On 24 September 1960, at the age of 55, he was killed in a car crash in South Africa during a lecturing tour of the country’s universities. At the time of his tragically early death, Seiber was one of the most respected teachers of composition in Britain. His own body of work is distinguished by a natural versatility and by the wide range and eclecticism of his musical interests. It incorporates the successful pop song 'By the Fountains of Rome' (1956), which entered the top ten of the charts and won an Ivor Novello Award, and his score for the animated film 'Animal Farm' (1954), as well as numerous examples of incidental music for radio, television and the stage.

Lyrita - SRCD348



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Britten: Song Cycles

Britten: Song Cycles


Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

Benjamin Britten (piano)

Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, Op. 31

Dennis Brain (horn)

New Symphony Orchestra of London, Eugene Goossens

Winter Words, Op. 52

Benjamin Britten (piano)

Peter Pears (tenor)

Heritage - HTGCDM047

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Puccini: Turandot

Puccini: Turandot

Joan Sutherland (Turandot), Luciano Pavarotti (Calaf), Montserrat Caballé (Liù), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Timur), Tom Krause (Ping), Pier Francesco Poli (Pang), Piero De Palma (Pong), Peter Pears (L'imperatore Altoum), Sabin Markov (Un mandarino)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, John Alldis Choir, Zubin Mehta

“Sutherland gives an intensely appealing interpretation, while Pavarotti gives a performance equally imaginative. Mehta directs a gloriously rich and dramatic performance. Still the best-sounding Turandot on CD.” Penguin Guide

“this for me on every level. Of course you get Pavarotti singing Nessun dorma at his lyrical best, but more importantly than that, Montserrat Caballé sings Liù, showing off her famed pianissimo to great effect at the end of Signore, ascolta. Finally, as a bonus bit of luxury casting, Peter Pears takes the small role of Turandot's father, Emperor Altoum.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

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Decca - 4787815

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Britten: Peter Grimes

Britten: Peter Grimes

Peter Pears (Peter Grimes), Claire Watson (Ellen Orford), James Pease (Balstrode), Jean Watson (Auntie), Raymond Nilsson (Bob Boles), Owen Brannigan (Swallow), Geraint Evans (Ned Keene), Lauris Elms (Mrs Sedley), David Kelly (Hobson), Marion Studholme (First Niece), Iris Kells (Second Niece), John Lanigan (Horace Adams)

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Benjamin Britten

Summer Opera Sale

Decca 20C - 4787429

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