BBC Symphony Orchestra / BBC Symphony Chorus

Best of British from the BBC Proms 2007

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As fine a two-disc set of twentieth century English music as one could imagine without the inclusion of anything by Ralph Vaughan Williams, this package featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra called Best of the British from the BBC Proms 2007 includes some old and new favorites and even some world premieres. The first disc opens with Walton's zesty Portsmouth Point Overture, followed by Elgar's elegiac Cello Concerto, and closes with Britten's evocative Four Sea Interludes from his opera Peter Grimes. The second disc opens with Delius' nostalgic A Song of Summer, followed by the world premiere of Knussen's lyrical Violin Concerto and Tippett's angular Triple Concerto, and closes with the world premiere of Richard Rodney Bennett's a cappella setting of Four Poems of Thomas Campion. The whole of the first disc is led by Jirí Belohlávek, and the Czech-born conductor turns in brilliantly colorful, strongly emphatic performances of the Walton and Britten works and a deeply searching account of the Elgar concerto with cellist Paul Watkins. On the second disc, Andrew Davis leads a passionate performance of the Delius work and a luminous performance of the Tippett work with violinist Daniel Hope, violist Philip Dukes, and cellist Christian Poltéra, while Knussen himself directs his concerto's lyrical debut with fiery violinist Leila Josefowicz and Stephen Jackson directs the BBC Symphony Chorus in Bennett's sweeping Campion settings. Caught in brightly colorful and brilliantly clear sound by Deutsche Grammophon, these performances will please the most discerning Anglophile.

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