Britten: The Turn of the Screw

Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews

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Britten: The Turn of the Screw Review

by James Manheim

This recording of Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw originated with a 2021 live online performance by the La Monnaie Opera in Brussels; it was to be played live before an audience, but pandemic restrictions intervened. Perhaps that was for the best from a recording standpoint; the sound here, captured over three performances, has unusual clarity and depth. It is a crackling performance, full of energy and the suppressed tensions, some of them homoerotic, that mark Britten's rendition of Henry James' novel. Conductor Ben Glassberg, leading the La Monnaie Chamber Orchestra, modestly writes that "everything is in the score" and that The Turn of the Screw "requires almost no musical interpretation in the strict sense of the word." Yet he brings an urgency and precision to the score that makes it work, giving a natural inevitability to the relationship between the 12-tone "Screw" theme and the individual scenes Britten's variations of this theme lead into, and he's an excellent manager of singers in a cast led here by Sally Matthews as the Governess and Julian Hubbard as Peter Quint (all are anglophones except for Katharina Bierweiler as Flora). Unlike in so many Britten performances, listeners here will need little recourse to a printed or online libretto. Here is a Turn of the Screw that truly does justice to the work's sharp edge.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Turn of the Screw, opera
1 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:32 Amazon
2 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:05 Amazon
3 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 02:27 Amazon
4 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:30 Amazon
5 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:31 Amazon
6 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:41 Amazon
7 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 02:57 Amazon
8 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:43 Amazon
9 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:54 Amazon
10 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:24 Amazon
11 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 09:15 Amazon
12 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:05 Amazon
13 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:29 Amazon
14 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:19 Amazon
15 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 05:31 Amazon
16 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:19 Amazon
17 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 09:43 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Turn of the Screw, opera
1 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:57 Amazon
2 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 04:10 Amazon
3 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:47 Amazon
4 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 07:25 Amazon
5 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:33 Amazon
6 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 06:12 Amazon
7 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:09 Amazon
8 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 04:33 Amazon
9 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:20 Amazon
10 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:51 Amazon
11 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 01:13 Amazon
12 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 03:24 Amazon
13 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:34 Amazon
14 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 04:01 Amazon
15 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 00:59 Amazon
16 Ben Glassberg / Julian Hubbard / Sally Matthews 11:20 Amazon
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