Nancy Evans

Mezzo-Soprano

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Alfred Deller: A Collection of His Early Recordings, Vol. 5

Alfred Deller: A Collection of His Early Recordings, Vol. 5


Alfred Deller (counter-tenor), Helen Watts (alto), William Herbert (tenor), Ian Wallace (bass), Margaret Ritchie (soprano), Nancy Evans (alto), John William Kentish (tenor)

St. Cecilia Orchestra, St. Anthony Singers, Anthony Lewis

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Handel: Sosarme

Handel: Sosarme


Alfred Deller (Sosarme), Helen Watts (Melo), Nancy Evans (Erenico), Margaret Ritchie (Elmira), William Herbert (Hallarte), John Kentish (Argone), Ian Wallace (Altomara)

Saint Cecilia Orchestra, Saint Anthony Singers, Anthony Lewis

Opera dOro - OPD1319

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Peter Warlock: Collected 78rpm Recordings

Peter Warlock: Collected 78rpm Recordings

Recorded 1925-51, digitally remastered.


Campion:

There is a Garden in her face

(arr. Warlock)

John Goss (baritone), Diana Poulton (lute)

Dowland:

Flow not so fast, ye fountains

(arr. Warlock)

John Goss (baritone), Diana Poulton (lute)

Ferrabosco, A II:

O eyes, O mortal stars

(arr. Warlock)

John Goss (baritone), Diana Poulton (lute)

Come, my Celia

(arr. Warlock)

John Goss (baritone), Diana Poulton (lute)

Purcell:

Fantazia

(arr. Warlock)

Pasquier Trio

Fantazia

(arr. Warlock)

Griller String Quartet

Warlock:

Capriol Suite

London Chamber Orchestra, Anthony Bernard

Serenade for strings

NGS Chamber Orchestra, John Barbirolli

Capriol Suite

(arr. for violin & piano by Joseph Szigeti)

Josef Szigeti (violin), Nikita Magalov (piano)

Serenade for strings

Constant Lambert String Orchestra, Constant Lambert

Capriol Suite

Constant Lambert String Orchestra, Constant Lambert

The Curlew

René Soames (tenor), Flora Nielsen (mezzo-soprano)

Aeolian String Quartet

Captain Stratton's Fancy

Peter Dawson (bass-baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Oh good ale

John Goss (baritone), Diana Poulton (lute)

Corpus Christi

The English Singers

Sleep

John Armstrong (baritone)

International String Quartet

Chopcherry

John Armstrong (baritone)

International String Quartet

The Fox

Parry Jones (tenor)

Sleep

Parry Jones (tenor)

Take, O take those lips away

Parry Jones (tenor)

Sweet and kind

Parry Jones (tenor)

As ever I saw

Parry Jones (tenor)

The Passionate Shepherd

Parry Jones (tenor)

Corpus Christi

Ann Wood (mezzo-soprano), Peter Pears (tenor)

BBC Chorus, Leslie Woodgate

Nursery Jingles (6)

Cecil Cope (bass)

Milkmaids

Roy Henderson (baritone), Eric Griffen (piano)

Captain Stratton's Fancy

Roy Henderson (baritone), Eric Griffen (piano)

Sigh no more, ladies

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Pretty Ring Time

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Passing By

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

My Own Country

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Fair and True

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Piggesnie

Roy Henderson (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Sweet and twenty

Nancy Evans (mezzo-soprano), Gerald Moore (piano)

Consider

Nancy Evans (mezzo-soprano), Gerald Moore (piano)

Sleep

Nancy Evans (mezzo-soprano), Gerald Moore (piano)

Rest, sweet nymphs

Truro Girls School

The First Mercy

Billy Neeley (treble)

Corpus Christi

Flora Nielsen (mezzo-soprano), René Soames (tenor)

Festival Singers, Leslie Woodgate

The Frostbound Wood

Dennis Noble (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

The Fox

Dennis Noble (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Captain Stratton's Fancy

Oscar Natzke (bass)


Born in 1894, Peter Warlock was one of England’s great songwriters – described by Lennox Berkeley as one of the “most colourful talents in English 20th century music”. His output was prolific. In addition he was a distinguished editor and transcriber of a vast amount of early music as well as an author of several books and many articles, editor and music critic. He was very close to Delius – indeed was obsessed with Delius’s music and wrote a book about him, and also assisted Beecham in organising a Delius festival in 1929. He shared a cottage with fellow composer E. J. Moeran. He suffered bouts of depression and sadly he was found dead in his Chelsea flat in December 1930, of gas poisoning.

Gathered here are the original 78rpm recordings from the John Bishop Collection – divided into Orchestral and Chamber on CD1 and vocal items on CD2. John Bishop was one of the leading lights of the Peter Warlock Society, and all tracks have been remastered by Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio.

The booklet contains fascinating and informative notes, rare photographs and original 78rpm matrix numbers with recording dates.

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - January 2010

Divine Art Historic Sound - DDH27811

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Handel: Sosarme

Handel: Sosarme


Alfred Deller, William Herbert, Nancy Evans, Margret Ritchie, John Kentish, Helen Watts, Ian Wallace

The Saint Cecilia Orchestra and Saint Anthony Singers, Anthony Lewis

Recorded in 1954

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Handel: Sosarme

Handel: Sosarme


Alfred Deller (Sosarme), Helen Watts (Melo), Nancy Evans (Erenico), Margaret Ritchie (Elmira), William Herbert (Hallarte), John Kentish (Argone), Ian Wallace (Altomara)

Orchestra di Santa Cecilia, Anthony Lewis

Urania - URN22270

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The Beecham Collection - Orchestral & Operatic Excerpts

The Beecham Collection - Orchestral & Operatic Excerpts


Puccini:

Manon Lescaut: excerpts

Smetana:

The Bartered Bride Overture

The Bartered Bride: Polka

The Bartered Bride: Skocná - Dance of the Comedians

Tchaikovsky:

Eugene Onegin (extracts)

Verdi:

Macbeth (excerpts)

Wagner:

Tannhäuser: Prelude to Act 3

Das Rheingold: highlights


Margherita Grandi (soprano), Vera Terry (mezzo), Ernest Frank (bass), Edith Furmedge (soprano), Margaret Field-Hyde (soprano), Gwladys Garside (mezzo soprano), Nancy Evans (contralto), Parry Jones (tenor), George Chitty (tenor), Paul Schöffler (baritone)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham

Released in collaboration with the Sir Thomas Beecham Trust in support of the Scholarship Fund.

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Somm Beecham Collection - SOMMB9

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Nancy Evans 'The Comely Mezzo'

Nancy Evans "The Comely Mezzo"

Selected songs by Manuel de Falla for mezzo-soprano


Nancy Evans (mezzo-soprano)

Dutton - CDBP9723

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Britten: Albert Herring

Britten: Albert Herring

The Royal Theatre, Copenhagen - September 15, 1949

Libretto by Eric Crozier and Directed by Basil Coleman


Peter Pears (Albert), Joan Cross (Lady Billows), Gladys Parr (Florence Pike), Margaret Ritchie (Miss Wordsworth), Otakar Kraus (Mr Gedge), Roy Ashton (Mr Upfold), Norman Lumsden (Spt. Budd), Denis Dowling (Sid), Nancy Evans (Nancy), Catherine Lawson (Mum), Anne Sharp (Emmie), Elisabeth Parry (Cis), Alan Thompson (Harry)

The English Opera Group Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten

This live recording is of a performance given by the English Opera Group, conducted by the composer in the Theatre Royal, Copenhagen on 15th September 1949. It is a fascinating document, coming, as it does, only two years after the first performance of the opera and with no less than eleven members of the original cast still in the team. The composer’s studio recording of Albert Herring was not made until 1964, and, excellent though it is, by then Peter Pears was the only role-creator still in the cast. All limitation of the sound quality aside, this is a wonderful survivor and one of the earliest recorded examples of Britten and the EOG in performance.

“Pears was not at his best, but in Britten's hands it is clear that, without losing any pathos, Albert Herring was first and foremost a superior piece of theatrical fun.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2013 ****

Nimbus - NI5824

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Alfred Deller: Countertenor

Alfred Deller: Countertenor

A Collection of His Early Recordings


includes

anon.:

Miserere, my Maker

Bach, J S:

Et misericordia

Magnificat in D major, BWV243: Esurientes implevit bonis

Buxtehude:

Jubilate Domino, omnis terra, BuxWV 64

Campion:

Never weather-beaten sail

Most sweet and pleasing are thy wayes

Author of Light

To Musicke bent is my retyred minde

Dowland:

Fine knacks for ladies

In darkness let me dwell

Flow my teares (Lacrimæ)

Sorrow, stay

Handel:

Sosarme: excerpts

Margaret Ritchie (Elmira), Nancy Evans (Erenico), Helen Watts (Melo), Alfred Deller (Sosarme), William Herbert (Hallarte), John Kentish (Argone), Ian Wallace (Altomara)

Purcell:

Come ye sons of art (Ode for Queen Mary's birthday, 1694), Z 323: excerpts

An Epithalamium (A Wedding Song)

Sweeter than Roses (from Pausanius, the Betrayer of his Country, Z585)

If music be the food of love, Z379

The History of King Richard the Second or The Sicilian Usurper: Retir'd from any mortal's sight, Z581

Hark how all things in one sound agree (from The Fairy Queen, Z629)

An Evening Hymn 'Now that the sun hath veiled his light', Z193

Thus to a ripe, consenting maid (from The Old Bachelor, Z607)


Alfred Deller (countertenor) & Desmond Dupré (guitar and lute)

Anthony Singers, L’Ensemble Orchestral de L’Oiseau-Lyre & The Deller Consort, Sir Anthony Lewis

The English singer Alfred Deller is still thought of as the first truly great exponent of the art of the countertenor. Deller left behind a large number of excellent recordings, from folksongs, English baroque songs and partsongs up to and including the operatic repertoire. This 5-CD compilation presents music from the first ten years of his career, 1949 until 1959.

This box set includes music by Purcell, Dowland, Campion, and other significant 16th and 17th century English composers, as well as Shakespeare settings, drinking songs, sacred music by Bach and Buxtehude, and folk songs arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Deller was also in great demand as a singer of the castrato roles in Handel operas, and so the collection also features excerpts from “Sosarme” in which Deller sings the title role.

Documents - 600117

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Benjamin Britten - The Collector’s Edition

Benjamin Britten - The Collector’s Edition


Britten:

Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pesek

Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op. 33a

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pesek

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pesek

Canadian Carnival Overture, Op. 19

Wesley Warren (trumpet)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Diversions for piano (left hand) and orchestra, Op. 21

Peter Donohoe (piano)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Scottish Ballad, Op. 26

Peter Donohoe & Philip Fowke (pianos)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

An American Overture

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Occasional Overture, Op. 38

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

The Building of the House

CBSO Chorus & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Piano Concerto, Op. 13

Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi

Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15

Ida Haendel (violin)

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Berglund

Young Apollo, Op. 16

Peter Donohoe (piano), Felix Kok, Jeremy Ballard (violins), Peter Cole (viola) & Michal Kaznowski (cello)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Simple Symphony, Op. 4

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown

Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown

Prelude & Fugue for 18 strings, Op. 29

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown

Lachrymae for viola & strings, Op. 48a

Lars Anders Tomter (viola)

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown

Gloriana - Symphonic Suite Op. 53a

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Takuo Yuasa

Symphony for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 68

Steven Isserlis (cello)

City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

Men of Goodwill (Variations on a Christmas Carol for orchestra)

Minnesota Orchestra, Sir Neville Marriner

Sinfonietta, Op. 1

Pauline Lowbury & Julian Tear (violins)

Britten Sinfonia, Daniel Harding

Russian Funeral

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Suite on English Folk Tunes 'A Time there was', Op. 90

Peter Walden (cor anglais)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Matinées musicales (after Rossini), Op. 24

English Chamber Orchestra, Sir Alexander Gibson

Soirées musicales (after Rossini), Op. 9

English Chamber Orchestra, Sir Alexander Gibson

The Tocher (Rossini Suite)

Boys of the Choir of Paisley & Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

The Prince of the Pagodas, Op. 57

London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen

Rhapsody for String Quartet

Endellion String Quartet

Quartettino

Endellion String Quartet

String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 25

Endellion String Quartet

Phantasy in F minor for string quintet

Nicholas Logie (viola)

Endellion String Quartet

Elegy for unaccompanied viola

Garfield Jackson (viola)

Phantasy Quartet for Oboe & String Trio, Op. 2

Endellion String Quartet

Three Divertimenti

Endellion String Quartet

String Quartet No. 2 in C major, Op. 36

Endellion String Quartet

String Quartet in D major (1931)

Endellion String Quartet

String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94

Endellion String Quartet

Suites for cello solo, Nos. 1-3

Truls Mørk (cello)

Holiday Diary Op. 5 for solo piano

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Three Character Pieces

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Moderato, Nocturne & Twelve Variations on a Theme from Sonatina romantica

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Five Waltzes for piano

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Two Lullabies for Two Pianos

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca, op.23 No.1

Stephen Hough, Ronan O’Hara (pianos)

Suite Op. 6

Alexander Barantschik (violin) & John Adey (piano)

Sonata for cello and piano in C major, Op. 65

Moray Welsh (cello) & John Lenehan (piano)

Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe, Op. 49

Roy Carter (oboe)

Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op. 70

Julian Bream (guitar)

War Requiem, Op. 66

Elisabeth Söderström (soprano), Robert Tear (tenor), Sir Thomas Allen (baritone) & Mark Blatchly (chamber organ)

Boys of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, CBSO Chorus & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Spring Symphony, Op. 44

Sheila Armstrong (soprano), Dame Janet Baker (contralto) & Robert Tear (tenor)

St. Clement Danes School Boys’ Choir, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn

Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27

Richard Cross (treble)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir David Willcocks

A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28

James Clark, Julian Godlee (trebles) & Osian Ellis (harp)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir David Willcocks

Missa Brevis in D major, Op. 63

Julian Brown, Christopher Anderson, Anthony Sackville, Rory Phillips & James Clark (trebles) & Ian Hare (organ)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir David Willcocks

Festival Te Deum in E, Op. 32

Simon Channing (treble) & James Lancelot (organ)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir Philip Ledger

Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30

Simon Channing (treble), James Bowman (countertenor), Richard Morton (tenor), Marcus Creed (bass), James Lancelot (organ) & David Corkhill (percussion)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir Philip Ledger

Te Deum in C

Rory Phillips (treble) & James Lancelot (organ)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir Philip Ledger

Jubilate Deo in C major (1961)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir Philip Ledger

A Hymn to the Virgin

Stephen Barton (treble), Hugh Hudleston (treble), Warren Trevelyan-Jones (tenor) & Francis Pott (bass)

Winchester Cathedral Choir, David Hill

St Nicolas, Op. 42

Words by Eric Crozier

Robert Tear (tenor), Bruce Russell (treble), Andrew Davis & Ian Hare (piano duet

Cambridge Girls’ Choir, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge & Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir David Willcocks

Hymn to St. Peter, Op. 56a

Mark Emney, Peter Rowe (trebles) & Timothy Farrell (organ)

Wandsworth School Choir, Russell Burgess

A Hymn of Saint Columba

Mark Emney, Peter Rowe (trebles), Christopher Hughes, Timothy Farrell (organ)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge & Wandsworth School Choir, Russell Burgess

Sacred and Profane, Op. 91

Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse

The Little Sweep, Op. 45

Words by Eric Crozier

Robert Lloyd, Robert Tear, Sam Monck, Heather Begg, Catherine Benson, Cato Fordham, Catherine Wearing, Mary Wells, David Glick, Colin Huehns & Katherine Willis

Finchley Children’s Music Group, Choral Scholars of King’s College, Cambridge & Medici String Quartet, Sir Philip Ledger

A Boy was Born, Op. 3

London Sinfonietta Chorus & Choristers of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Terry Edwards

A Shepherd's Carol

Sarah Leonard (soprano), Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano), Peter Hall (tenor) & Gordon Jones (baritone)

London Sinfonietta Chorus, Terry Edwards

Noye's Fludde

Richard Pasco, Donald Maxwell, Linda Ormiston, Alexander Gallifant, Timothy Lamb, Nicholas Berry, Catriona Johnson, Polly Hewetson & Joanna Brown

Coull String Quartet & Schools’ Orchestra from schools of Salisbury and Chester, Richard Hickox

A.M.D.G.

London Sinfonietta Chorus, Terry Edwards

The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard (Text: The Oxford Book of Ballads)

Baccholian Singers of London

The Company of Heaven

Peter Barkworth, Sheila Allen (narrators), Cathryn Pope (soprano), Dan Dressen (tenor) & Christopher Herrick (organ)

London Philharmonic Choir & English Chamber Orchestra, Philip Brunelle

Ballad of Heroes, Op. 14

Robert Tear (tenor)

CBSO Chorus & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Praise We Great Men

Alison Hargan (soprano), Mary King (contralto), Robert Tear (tenor) & Willard White (bass)

CBSO Chorus & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Les illuminations, Op. 18

Heather Harper (soprano)

Northern Sinfonia Orchestra, Sir Neville Marriner

Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, Op. 31

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Barry Tuckwell (horn)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, for tenor, horn and strings

orch. Colin Matthews

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Barry Tuckwell (horn)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

Nocturne, Op. 60 for tenor, obbligato instruments and strings

Robert Tear (tenor)

English Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Tate

Quatre Chansons Françaises

Jill Gomez (soprano)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

Our Hunting Fathers, Op. 8

Elisabeth Söderström (soprano)

Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, Richard Armstrong

Four Folksong Settings

Elisabeth Söderström (soprano)

Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, Richard Armstrong

Phaedra, Op. 93

Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano), Jane Salmon (cello) & Melvyn Tan (harpsichord)

Endymion Ensemble, John Whitfield

Five French Folksong arrangements

Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano)

Endymion Ensemble, John Whitfield

Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

On this Island, Op. 11

Robert Tear (tenor) & Sir Philip Ledger (piano)

Winter Words, Op. 52

Robert Tear (tenor) & Sir Philip Ledger (piano)

Canticles I-V

Ian Bostridge (tenor), David Daniels (countertenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Timothy Brown (horn), Aline Brewer (harp) & Julius Drake (piano)

Folksongs (selection)

Ian Bostridge (tenor), David Daniels (countertenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Timothy Brown (horn), Aline Brewer (harp) & Julius Drake (piano)

The Children and Sir Nameless (Hardy)

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

Beware! - Three Early Songs

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

To lie flat on the back with the knees flexed (No. 1 from Fish in the Unruffled Lakes)

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

Three rhymes by William Soutar

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

Tit for Tat

Jonathan Lemalu (bass baritone) & Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Two Ballads for two voices and piano

Felicity Lott (soprano) & Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano)

Folksongs (selection)

Robert Tear (tenor) & Sir Philip Ledger (piano)

Folksongs (selection)

Sarah Brightman (soprano) & Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

Paul Bunyan

Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra of the Plymouth Music Series, Philip Brunelle

Peter Grimes

Recorded: VI.1992, Watford Town Hall

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Felicity Lott, Thomas Allen, Patricia Payne, Maria Bovino, Gillian Webster, Stuart Kale, Stafford Dean, Sarah Walker, Neil Jenkins, Simon Keenlyside, David Wilson-Johnson

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Bernard Haitink

The Turn of the Screw

Recorded: 17–19.I.2002, Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk

Ian Bostridge, Joan Rodgers, Julian Leang, Caroline Wise, Jane Henschel, Vivian Tierney

Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Recorded: XI.1990

James Bowman, Lillian Watson, Dexter Fletcher, John Graham-Hall, Henry Herford, Della Jones, Jill Gomez, Norman Bailey, Penelope Walker

Trinity Boys’ Choir, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

The Rape of Lucretia

Abridged recording of the revised version (1947), Recorded: 16–19.VII. & 19.X.1947, No.1 Studio, Abbey Road, London

Nancy Evans (Lucretia), Peter Pears (Male Chorus), Joan Cross (Female Chorus), Frederick Sharp (Tarquinius), Norman Lumsden (Collatinus), Dennis Dowling (Junius), Margaret Ritchie (Lucia), Flora Nielsen (Bianca)

English Opera Group Chamber Orchestra, Reginald Goodall

Night covers up the rigid land (No. 2 from Fish in the Unruffled Lakes)

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

If it's ever Spring again (Hardy)

Neil Mackie (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)


Benjamin Britten was born on the day of the Patron Saint of Music – St. Cecilia – 22nd November in 1913 in Lowestoft. He showed remarkable skill at composition from his earliest days. In 1924 he met Frank Bridge (1879-1941), a fine composer in his own right, and became his pupil; through him he developed an appreciation of contemporary music with scores by Bartók and the Schönberg school, particulary Berg.

In 1930 he entered the Royal College of Music and developed the pianistic skills which made him such a brilliant interpreter of both his own music and other greats particularly Mozart and Schubert. From these times date the beautiful A Hymn to the Virgin, Quatre Chansons Françaises and the Sinfonietta, his official Op. 1. He visited Vienna in 1934 and saw Wozzeck but family resistance prevented him studying with Berg (who, in any case, died from blood poisoning caused by an insect sting a year later).

He worked for some years in the film unit of the General Post Office where he met W.H. Auden whose poetry inspired the brilliant song cycle Our Hunting Fathers. The experience in the film unit enabled him to develop the expressive immediacy and technical abilities – often using small and unconventional resources – which would assist his composition of operas in the years to come.

In 1939 he decided to follow Auden to America, accompanying him was the tenor Peter Pears (1910-1986) who was to be the inspiration behind so many great operatic roles and song cycles. There he composed the Sinfonia da Requiem, the Michelangelo Sonnets and the First Quartet. His first opera, Paul Bunyan, to an Auden libretto, was also composed there but then withdrawn (it was revived for the Aldeburgh Festival in the year he died).

He started to get the pangs of homesickness especially when he read, by chance, an article by E.M. Forster on the Suffolk poet Crabbe (whose work was to lead to arguably his greatest success) and he returned to England in 1942. He wrote A Ceremony of Carols and Hymn to St. Cecilia (another Auden text) during this year.

For British Opera the date 7th June 1945 will always remain a red-letter day as it heralded the premiere of a masterpiece, Peter Grimes. The triumph not only established Britten as Purcell’s successor as Britain’s greatest music dramatist but its numerous performances abroad showed that Britain had an international composer celebrity.

The Rape of Lucretia was premiered the following year as was the work by which Britten is probably best remembered – certainly by thankful schoolchildren for their guide to the Orchestra. Here he subjects the theme by Purcell to a series of ingenious variations played by each member of the orchestra and then as groups and finally a fugue where everything comes together in a simply unforgettable coda.

Indeed when one examines Britten’s output it is hard not to credit him with at least one work of genius, if not a masterpiece, virtually every year for the rest of his composing life – whether it be an opera, for example The Turn of the Screw in 1954 or A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1960; a choral work, for example Spring Symphony in 1949 or the War Requiem in 1961, a large vocal work, for example Serenade for tenor, horn and strings in 1943, Nocturne in 1958 and Phaedra in 1975; a smaller vocal work, for example the Canticles of 1947, 1952, 1954, 1971 & 1974; the works he wrote for Mstislav Rostropovich – the Cello Sonata in 1961, the Cello Symphony in 1963 and the three Solo Cello Suites in 1964, 1967 & 1971; the two remaining string quartets in 1945 & 1975 and a full length ballet The Prince of the Pagodas in 1956.

Besides setting many classic poets from Britain including Blake, Burns, Coleridge, Donne, Hardy, Keats, Jonson, Milton, Owen, Shakespeare, Shelley, Spenser, Tennyson and Wordsworth he also set texts in French (Hugo, Rimbaud and Verlaine), Italian (Michelangelo), German (Hölderlin) and Russian (Pushkin). He was also partly responsible for the reawakening of interest in the music of his great predecessor, Henry Purcell by making realizations of a large number of his works. He also launched the music festival in his adopted town of Aldeburgh.

EMI Composer Boxes - 2175262

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