Angelika Kirchschlager / Oliver Knussen / Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

In this live 2011 recording by Oliver Knussen and the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Benjamin Britten's chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia is presented in the revised version, which varies little from the original except for the somewhat shortened first act. The powerful performances by Peter Coleman-Wright as Tarquinius and Angelika Kirchschlager as Lucretia are central to this pagan/Christian morality tale and are the most compelling characters of this production, especially in the crucial rape scene in Act II. Yet they are overshadowed by the highly florid singing of Ian Bostridge as the Male Chorus, which seems out of proportion in its theatricality to the rawer realism of the other roles. However, the convoluted language of the libretto lends itself to an over-the-top interpretation, so Bostridge's role and Susan Gritton's corresponding Female Chorus are, perhaps intentionally on Britten's part, more prominent than the other characters, since the progress of the drama depends on their presentational delivery. Despite this imbalance, the opera is well-handled as music, and Knussen leads the ensemble with intensity and clarity, drawing out many fine details in the score that add to the story's urgency and disturbing moods. Virgin's recording is exceptional for a live performance, offering sound that has realistic dimensions, natural presence, and vibrant sonorities.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Rape of Lucretia, Op. 37
1 2:29
2 2:28
3 2:33
4 2:23
5 4:23
6 4:14
7 3:59
8 2:14
9 2:58
10 5:21
11 2:46
12 3:26
13 1:50
14 5:23

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Rape of Lucretia, Op. 37
1 7:29
2 2:59
3 2:11
4 4:01
5 5:47
6 3:51
7 5:55
8 3:27
9 3:18
10 2:39
11 4:50
12 3:28
13 3:57
14 5:13
blue highlight denotes track pick