Britten: Peter Grimes

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Britten: Peter Grimes


BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - November 2013



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Release date:

29th July 2013




2 hours 17 minutes


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Britten: Peter Grimes

[Grimes on the Beach]

Alan Oke (Peter Grimes), Giselle Allen (Ellen Orford), David Kempster (Captain Balstrode), Gaynor Keeble (Auntie), Alexandra Hutton (First Niece), Charmian Bedford (Second Niece), Robert Murray (Bob Boles), Henry Waddington (Swallow), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mrs Sedley), Christopher Gillett (Rev. Horace Adams), Charles Rice (Ned Keene), Stephen Richardson (Hobson)

Chorus of Opera North, Chorus of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama & Britten–Pears Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

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Britten’s powerful and masterful evocation of the North Sea in all its moods has become inextricably linked, to audiences all over the world, with the Aldeburgh that was home to Crabbe in the 18th century and Britten in the 20th. Steuart Bedford leads a vast and accomplished group of performers on this new recording, created shortly before the company performed the work on the beach at Aldeburgh as part of the festival, further celebrating Britten's centenary year, 2013.

Benjamin Britten: Act III Scene II

Peter Grimes (Hobson, Swallow, Peter)

You sailed your boat round the coast (Swallow, Peter, Mrs. Sedley, Hobson, Ellen, Chorus)

Peter Grimes, I here advise you (Swallow, Hobson, Peter, Chorus)

The truth - the pity - and the truth (Peter, Ellen)

Interlude I

Oh, hang at open doors (Auntie, Boles, Balstrode, Chorus)

Good morning, good morning! (Rector, Nieces, Mrs. Sedley, Ned, Swallow, Auntie, Boles, Balstrode, Chorus)

Hi! Give us a hand (Peter, Boles, Balstrode, Ned, Auntie, Hobson)

I'll have to go from pub to pub (Hobson, Ellen, Ned, Chorus)

Let her among you without fault (Ellen, Hobson, Mrs. Sedley, Ned)

Look! The storm cone! (Balstrode, Ned, Boles, Chorus)

And do you prefer the storm (Balstrode, Peter)

They listen to money (Peter, Balstrode)

What harbour shelters peace (Peter)

Act I: Interlude II

Past time to close (Auntie, Mrs. Sedley, Balstrode, Boles, Nieces)

Loud man (Auntie, Nieces, Mrs. Sedley)

There's been a landslide up the coast (Fisherman, Boles, Balstrode, Auntie)

No, I mean love (Boles, Balstrode, Chorus)

Pub conversation should depend (Balstrode, Chorus)

Have you heard the cliff is down (Ned, Auntie, Mrs. Sedley, Chorus)

Now the Great Bear and Pleiades (Peter, Nieces, Boles, Balstrode, Auntie, Chorus)

For peace sake (Balstrode, Peter)

The bridge is down (Hobson, Ned, Ellen, Boles, Auntie, Nieces, Peter)

Act II: Interlude III

Glitter of waves (Ellen)

Now that the daylight fills the sky (Ellen, Rector, Chorus)

Child you're not too young (Ellen, Rector, Peter, Chorus)

This unrelenting work (Ellen, Peter, Chorus)

Fool to let it come to this (Auntie, Ned, Boles, Mrs. Sedley, Balstrode, Swallow, Nieces, Rector, Chorus)

People ... No! I will speak! (Boles, Balstrode, Rector, Auntie, Ellen, Chorus)

We planned that their lives (Ellen, Rector, Mrs. Sedley, Boles, Ned, Nieces, Auntie, Balstrode, Hobson, Swallow, Chorus)

Shall we go and see Grimes in his hut? (Rector, Swallow, Balstrode, Mrs. Sedley, Boles, Chorus)

Now gossip is put on trial (Chorus)

From the gutter (Nieces, Auntie, Ellen)

Act II: Interlude IV

Go there (Peter)

They listen to money (Peter)

Now! Now! (Peter, Chorus)

Peter Grimes (Rector, Swallow, Ned)

Act III: Interlude V

Assign your prettiness to me (Swallow, Nieces, Ned)

Mr. Keene (Mrs. Sedley, Ned)

Murder most foul it is (Mrs. Sedley, Ned)

Come along, Doctor (Burgess, Burgesses, Rector, Mrs. Sedley, Ellen, Balstrode)

Embroidery in childhood was (Ellen, Balstrode)

Mr. Swallow (Mrs. Sedley, Auntie, Swallow, Hobson)

Who holds himself apart (Chorus)

Act III: Interlude VI

Grimes! (Voices, Peter)

Peter, we've come to take you home (Ellen, Peter, Balstrode)

To those who pass the Borough (Swallow, Fisherman, Auntie, Boles, Chorus)

Alan Oke on playing Peter Grimes

Giselle Allen on playing Ellen Orford

Steuart Bedford on conducting Peter Grimes

Sunday Times

18th August 2013

“A fine memento of a thrilling performance”

Evening Standard

27th August 2013

“There is something of Britten himself in Peter Grimes… premiered nearly 70 years ago – but Britten’s finest works are more relevant than ever, and continue to prove the magic and power of opera”

The Telegraph

29th August 2013


“It mixes professional forces assembled by Opera North with a student chorus and orchestra, both of whom make youthfully fresh and committed contributions which the composer would doubtless have appreciated...a performance with more guts and energy than high polish.”

The Observer

18th August 2013

“Alan Oke offers a poetic, masterful reading of the title role. Giselle Allen's anguished Ellen Orford and a characterful ensemble of Borough folk make the drama immediate and transparent. If this were my only Grimes recording, I would be happy.”

The Arts Desk

14th September 2013

“All is taut, tense and claustrophobic, the rich Snape acoustic adding to the pleasure. The orchestra playing is incisive, occasionally brash but thrillingly alive, and the all-important chorus, drawn from Opera North and the Guildhall School, is among the greatest on disc.”

BBC Music Magazine

November 2013


“[Bedford] has the sea-swell of the work deep in his bones...[Oke's] is a strong, ballasted performance, less purely plangent than many, but deeply moving in its simple strength and keen imagination...There's much to relish throughout this hand-picked cast.”

Gramophone Magazine

November 2013

“This is an expertly paced performance, as one might expect with Steuart Bedford as conductor, building the tension incrementally...[Oke] is heard to best effect when Grimes is peering deep into his soul...Allen's urgent Ellen Orford is well in the picture, though she does not always sound ingratiating, and David Kempster is a stalwart Balstrode.”

Opera Now


“this release has strong presence. Steuart Bedford’s conducting is pacey and brings out the violence of the piece, and the Britten-Pears Orchestra rips into the score...Oke’s Grimes is a damaged soul from the start...Allen sounds a mature but intense Ellen, David Kempster a humane Balstrode.”

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