BENJAMIN BRITTEN The Complete Works 4785364

. . . a highlight of a centenary year already rich in impressive initiatives . . .

. . . ] a highly impressive gift . . . full of discographical material which will be of real interest to record collectors . . . The set's 'completeness' is very impressive . . . The fullness of this collection means that even dedicated lovers of Britten's music are likely to bring into their collections works they have not had before . . . this is the once-and-for-all Britten CD purchase, an unmissable opportunity -- the centenary could hardly offer anything bigger or better. The set is also excellent value for money, with some of the discs extending to over 80 minutes playing time.

. . . [an] absolutely magnificent CD collection . . . a brilliant achievement, meticulously documented . . . [these recordings] are all top notch and of historic importance . . . peerless gems . . . A treasure trove from a composer whose stature continues to rise and rise.

This is more than a box of CDs; it's a family heirloom . . . with impeccable documentation . . . [his recordings] still sound remarkable 50 years on . . . a terrific achievement that no lover of Britten's music should miss.

. . . superlative recordings of "Peter Grimes", "Billy Budd" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (plus other operas, including the ill-fated so-called ''Coronation opera'', Gloriana, in Charles Mackerras' marvellous mid-'90s recording), along with his extraordinary musical partnerships with such musicians as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich and, of course, Pears . . . There are pleasures in works that are less well know . . . Thus does Britten's ever-wondrous music live on.

This sumptuous, attractively presented box is wholly worthy of Benjamin Britten's centenary and fully justifies its price . . . the Amadeus version of the Second Quartet [is] always my recommendation for a recording showing off this ensemble's tone . . . I find the early quartet pieces fascinating, not least the precocious 1928 F major Quartet . . . beautifully played by the Utrecht Quartet . . . the Cello Symphony with Rostropovich comes up sounding tremendous . . . Britten's piano playing is, as ever, full of personality . . . the Britten arrangement of "The Beggar's Opera", well cast -- with Ann Murray as an enchanting Polly -- and well conducted by Steuart Bedford . . . the mono set of "The Turn of the Screw" [is] ideally cast and still amazingly atmospheric . . . Here, presented for us in all his fullness, is a composer who could sound contemporary and understandable at the same time.

. . . [a] uniquely valuable Britten Centenary issue . . .

. . . a handsomely documented box . . . outstanding value . . . you will be surprised at how much there is that you didn't know, starting with his folksong arrangements and precocious juvenilia. The light music comes out surprisingly well . . . War Requiem comes in a fresh pressing from the original tapes . . . The set's most fascinating component, never previously released, is a 50-minute private tape made by Decca producer John Culshaw of Britten rehearsing his recording of War Requiem . . . it amounts to an invaluable document for posterity: Britten is demanding, polite, unwaveringly focused and surprisingly humorous. The set is almost worth the price for this CD alone.

. . . a gifted composer by any measure . . . [Violin Concerto]: some great music . . . It's a brash and brilliantly colored work . . . [Serenade For Tenor, Horn And Strings, Op. 31]: some of his most beautiful and moving music . . . The second movement, a Nocturne . . . is utter perfection in both its textural shimmer and its poetic wistfulness . . . ["The young person's guide to the orchestra"]: Britten's score is genius . . . Each section highlights the colors, textures and possibilities of different instruments in the orchestra, from bassoons to harp to the percussion and beyond, before bringing them all back together into a brilliant and darting fugue . . .["Peter Grimes"]: The ultimate must-hear work . . . Forget opera: This is one of the great modern works for stage, period . . . ["War Requiem"]: many incredibly poignant moments in this epically scaled work . . .

. . . [a] highly attractive box . . . With such a wide variety of performing media, listening to the music chronologically can be extremely rewarding. It highlights Britten's rare facility for diverse composition and his exacting standards for publication, for even the recently discovered works have much to commend them. His economical methods mean that few of those pieces outstay their welcome . . . a magnificent achievement, a credit to managing director Paul Moseley, the product management of Raymond McGill and the team at Decca. They have shown painstaking and sensitive attention to detail throughout. Each box is numbered as part of a limited edition of 3,000, and its packaging, reassuringly robust, is surprisingly compact for the housing of 66 discs. It is a wonderful tribute to a very special relationship, the like of which is unlikely to ever be witnessed again between a composer and a record company. It marks Britten's centenary with great dignity, illustrating his versatility as a composer both for his own expressive needs but also those of his immediate community.

. . . [a] searing intensity of the premiere recording of the "War Requiem" released by Decca in 1963, conducted by the composer with an ideal cast of singers, produced by John Culshaw, and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson in what is, in my opinion, the finest of all recording venues: Kingsway Hall in London . . . Culshaw was the perfect choice to provide Britten's complex spatial effects, and Wilkinson could certainly get the most out of Kingsway Hall's acoustics. All of this turned out to be true on the original LP pressings that were sonically in the same class as the Solti "Ring" . . . The opening of the Blu-ray Audio disc transports you into another world that must be heard to be believed. The fine instrumental and choral detail is mind boggling, and this information is presented with no significant compromise of Britten's spatial effects (the children's chorus sounds other-wordly but is precisely focused in the extreme rear of the sound stage), as captured so brilliantly by Culshaw and Wilkinson. Britten's often-chilly instrumental effects . . . are presented exactly as written. This three-disc album retains the striking black and white cover of the original LP and the fascinating rehearsal extracts revealing the composer at work, plus the same essays by Christopher Palmer and Donald Mitchell (on the rehearsal) that were included in the Originals album . . . If you can play Blu-ray audio through your sound system, you owe it to yourself to experience Britten's masterpiece as recorded by Culshaw and Wilkinson in Kingsway Hall. Based on the sound of the Blu-ray Audio Wagner "Ring" and this "War Requiem", let us hope that the Universal Music Group quickly completes their plans to release more of their outstanding recordings in pure Blu-ray audio.

. . . a rare honour for a composer . . . "Albert Herring" is naturally included in the Decca set and, like most of the other operas, in a virtually definitive performance led by the composer himself . . . The Decca recording of the "War Requiem", now in a hi-res transfer from the original master tapes, remains the gold standard by which subsequent recordings are to be judged.

. . . absolut unverzichtbar!

. . . [Decca hat] mit dieser Edition das wohl nachhaltigste Projekt zum Jubiläum vorgelegt. Mit ihr kann man in das Universum des Komponisten voll eintauchen, den klassischen Aufnahmen . . . wiederbegegnen, weniger bekannte Werke entdecken, vor allem aber Zusammenhänge erkennen, die erst dann so richtig ins Auge springen, wenn man das gesamte Schaffen überblickt . . .

Die ultimative Box. Wer alle Werke Brittens studieren will, ist mit der neuen Britten -- The Complete-Works-Box (Decca) bestens versorgt . . . Wichtig: Oft ist Britten auch als (toller) Dirigent eigener Opern zu erleben.

. . . [Britten:] Noch immer sind seine Interpretationen . . . maßstäblich, für alle späteren Interpreten und Hörer unumgänglich. Britten war als Pianist und Dirigent gleichermaßen bedeutend und unanfechtbar . . . Ihr vielleicht größter Vorzug: Sie sind von der Aura des Authentischen umgeben . . . es [gibt] ein Wiederhören mit einigen Meilensteinen der Schallplattengeschichte . . .