The tragic opera Peter Grimes established Benjamin Britten's reputation internationally, and its place in the repertoire has been uncontested since its premiere in 1945. To mark the centennial of Britten's birth, Signum Classics presents this live recording, made in June 2013 at the 66th Aldeburgh Festival. The CD release is drawn from the two concert performances given in Snape Maltings Concert Hall, and not from the fully staged performances presented a few days later on the beach. Tenor Alan Oke leads the cast, impressively singing the title role for the first time, and he is well-matched in expressive power and characterization by soprano Giselle Allen as Ellen Orford, and baritone David Kempster as Captain Balstrode. The singers' voices have a commanding presence and their diction is perfectly clear, so it's quite easy to follow the action without resorting to the libretto in the booklet. However, the Britten-Pears Orchestra, conducted by Steuart Bedford, has a subdued ensemble sound that seems due in part to the microphone placement and to the hall's dry acoustics, which create a slight muting effect. Yet when the orchestra rises to climaxes, the sonorities are full and vibrant, and the playing overall is quite evocative, especially in the famous passacaglia and orchestral interludes. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2