Britten: Bridge Variations, Etc / Bedford, English Co

Release Date: 6/21/2005
Label: Naxos
Catalog Number: 8557200
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
Low Stock
$11.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews




Two previous Britten CDs reviewed in these pages were rescued, as was this one, from the archives of the now defunct Collins Classics label. If you happen to have the original 1992 Collins disc, be advised that it and the current Naxos release are one and the same. If you don?t have it, the present CD offers an excellent opportunity to acquire two of Benjamin Britten?s most popular works? The Young Person?s Guide and the Frank Bridge Variations ?plus two other not-so-often-heard pieces in the composer?s most approachable style, all in fine performances, a splendid recording that sounds newly minted, and at budget cost.


Few, if any, of Britten?s works have enjoyed the exposure of his Young Person?s Guide to the Orchestra , commissioned in 1946 for an educational film intended for the ?edification and entertainment? of children. Like other works of its type?Saint-Saëns?s Carnival of the Animals and Prokofiev?s Peter and the Wolf ?Britten?s piece has been edifying and entertaining audiences of all age groups ever since.


The major offering here, the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge , was Britten?s tribute to his teacher. Written in 1937, it was premiered by the Boyd Neel Orchestra that same year, and recorded by the same forces a year later. That recording has been transferred to CD by Pearl, and is still available, as is Britten?s own 1967 recording with the English Chamber Orchestra on Decca. Several more recent accounts have also been committed to disc, the most recent being a very impressive SACD release with the Scottish Ensemble on Linn Records. I don?t think it too far a stretch to say that Britten?s Frank Bridge Variations may well be the most important work in variations form to come from the pen of an English composer since Elgar?s Enigma Variations .


The Occasional Overture and Prelude and Fugue for 18-part string orchestra have received less attention on disc, though the former found a place in a Britten anthology recorded by Simon Rattle, and the latter in a collection of the composer?s works led by Ronald Thomas for Chandos.


The current Naxos release serves a meal well balanced between two of Britten?s enduring masterpieces and two lighter, palate-cleansing courses. If you don?t already have the Collins original, go for it.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
products.tracks.classical.title
1. Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1937 ; England
2. Occasional Overture in C major, Op. 38 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1946 ; England
3. Prelude and Fugue for 18-part String Orchestra, Op. 29 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1943 ; England
4. Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34 by Benjamin Britten
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1946 ; England
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