Mark Wigglesworth / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Britten: Peter Grimes

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Performers who take on the enigmatic role of Peter Grimes generally fall into one of two types, personified by two iconic interpreters of the part, the light-voiced Peter Pears or heldentenor Jon Vickers. In this recording taken from performances at Glyndebourne in 2000, American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey manages to incorporate elements of both. His vocal quality is more similar to Pears', although sweeter, more colorful, and warmer, but his dramatic conception of the role is closer to Vickers' menacing ferocity. Physically Griffey is ideal for the role, hulking and powerful, and his outbursts are genuinely scary. He convincingly conveys the paradox of Peter Grimes' duality, his poetic sensibility and his brutishness. It's a wrenching performance, and it's among the most memorable recorded accounts of the role. Vivian Tierney sings with sweetness as Ellen Orford, and also expresses her inner strength. As Captain Balstrode, Steven Page is especially imposing and he sings with lyrical warmth. Peter Grimes is very much an ensemble piece, and its large number of vividly etched secondary characters is perhaps unmatched by any major opera since Monteverdi. The performances here are all splendid, but Hilary Summers as Mrs. Sedley and Christopher Maltman as Ned Keene stand out. Mark Wigglesworth draws sharply etched performances from the London Symphony Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Chorus. His reading is full of brilliant, musically and dramatically apt small touches, such as having the first line of the final chorus sung by a single soprano rather than the whole section. The sound of the live performance is detailed but lacks the fullness that a studio recording might offer. The stage sounds add to the realism of the drama and are enhancing rather than distracting. This is a solid recording of the opera made exceptional by Griffey's portrayal.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Peter Grimes
1 1:46
2 3:42
3 2:22
4 1:55
5 3:29
6 6:16
7 3:44
8 2:16
9 3:14
10 2:41
11 5:15
12 1:01
13 4:27
14 4:18
15 1:49
16 1:24
17 3:50
18 2:07
19 1:38

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Peter Grimes
1 2:28
2 5:22
3 3:31
4 4:56
5 3:08
6 2:04
7 2:36
8 2:59
9 5:08
10 5:57
11 7:53
12 2:21
13 4:01
blue highlight denotes track pick