Magazine article Gramophone

Glyndebourne's Own Sound for 2010 Billy Budd on CD

Magazine article Gramophone

Glyndebourne's Own Sound for 2010 Billy Budd on CD

Article excerpt

Britten  Billy Budd  Jacques Imbrailo bar       Billy Budd John Mark Ainsley ten      Captain Vere Philip Ens bass            John Claggart lain Paterson bass-bar     Mr Redburn Matthew Rose bass          Mr Flint Darren Jeffery bass-bar    Lt Ratcliffe Alasdair Elliott ten       Red Whiskers John Moore bar             Donald Jeremy White bass          Dansker Ben Johnson ten            Novice Colin Judson ten           Squeak Richard Mosley-Evans bar   Bosun  Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder Glyndebourne (M) (3) GFOCD017-10 (164' * DDD * S/T) Recorded live, May & June 2010 

This is getting confusing: the Glyndebourne Festival DVD of Billy Budd (9/11) is now followed by a CD of the same production, made (at least partly) on different dates. Divorced from Michael Grandage's rather insipid production, it makes a strong entry in the purely audio stakes. The unexpected advantage is that the recording is much better than on the festival's other recent Britten CDs. Helped perhaps by the acoustic properties of the set--an enveloping ship ' s interior--the voices project clearly. We feel as if we are out on deck, yet the balance with the orchestra is very good. With the exception of the scene of the aborted naval battle, where the principals were at the back of the stage, almost every word can be heard in this vividly immediate live recording. The cast stands up well against existing rivals. Jacques Imbrailo makes a marvellously youthful, innocent-sounding Billy Budd and his lyrical singing of Billy's solo scene before his execution is heart-rending. He is fortunate to have such a sympathetic Captain Vere in John Mark Ainsley, who makes up for a voice on the light side by his understanding for this tortured man of the enlightenment (how true rings the line 'I have studied men and their ways). After an uncertain start, Phillip Ens grows into a Claggart of authority and there are appreciable portrayals from Matthew Rose as Mr Flint and Iain Paterson as Mr Redburn. …

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