Peter Grimes has been well served on disc, particularly with Britten's own classic recording with Peter Pears and Jon Vickers' very different interpretation, conducted by Colin Davis. Those two recordings, and this one, starring Anthony Rolfe Johnson and conducted by Bernard Haitink, all use the Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This is a very credible version of the opera, but it's just too...pretty. Johnson doesn't have a large, menacing tenor like Vickers, or the idiosyncratic timbre of Pears, or their dramatic urgency, characteristics that made their performances so memorable. His voice is entirely pleasant, if not particularly distinctive. Musically, his performance is immaculate, but he doesn't convince us of the depth of Grimes' internal anguish and the rage that is always simmering just under the surface. The charge of prettiness could be leveled at other leads, as well. Felicity Lott sings with warmth and clarity, in a soaring, lyrical performance, but she sounds so young that it's hard to believe her as spinster Ellen Orford. Patricia Payne as Auntie and Sarah Walker as Mrs. Sedley also miss the opportunity to create thoroughly quirky, dramatically differentiated characters. The moments that are intended to be lovely are just right, though; the women's quartet that ends the first scene of Act II is gorgeously ethereal. Stafford Dean makes an appropriately pompous Swallow, and Thomas Allen is a memorable Captain Balstrode. Bernard Haitink leads a dramatic and thoughtfully structured reading of the score, and the orchestra plays incisively; the interludes are among the highlights of this performance. The chorus, like some of the soloists, would benefit from a more aggressive and sharply etched characterization. EMI's sound is very fine -- clean and vivid, with a good sense of presence.