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Britten: Piano Concerto


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1. Overture To Paul Bunyan
2. I. Allegro Molto E Con Brio
3. II. Waltz: Allegretto
4. III. Impromptu: Andante Lento
5. IV. March: Allegro Moderato Sempre A La Marcia
6. Piano Concerto - Original Third Movement: Recitative And Aria
7. Overature
8. Introduction
9. Incinerators' Ballet
10. The Spider And The Fly
11. Approach Of Death
12. End Music

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
MacGregor's Piano Concerto is Equal to Richter's ... May 4 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
... but different. Richter's well-loved recording of Britten's only piano concerto, with Britten conducting, is Big Concerto romantic in its take on the work. MacGregor's (and conductor Steuart Bedford's) is rather more neoclassic, almost sounding in spots as if it had been written by one of Les Six (except, of course, for the intentionally Prokofievian finale). That's partly because of the recorded sound. Richter/Britten was recorded in 1970 and although the sound has worn well, it has the orchestra somewhat recessed in comparison to the spotlight on Richter's piano. In the present recording the orchestra, which has some really quite wonderful things to say, is treated as an equal partner. This is all to the advantage of the music, I feel. Add to that the brio that MacGregor brings to her performance, and you have a winner. MacGregor, like Richter, is no shrinking violet and she more than holds her own. It is well known that seven years after the 1938 première of the Concerto (with Britten himself at the piano), the composer threw out the original third movement (of four, subtitled 'Recitative and Aria') and composed a new one, called 'Impromptu.' This recording includes, as the concerto's fifth track, that original. My own opinion is that although there are some lovely moments in the original movement, Britten's replacement works better. But it's good to hear it.

The other pieces here are the rollicking overture to Britten's early American opera 'Paul Bunyan,' written while he and Peter Pears were in the US early in the War. The overture had been dropped when the opera was premièred and existed only in piano score; it was orchestrated by Britten's amanuensis, Colin Matthews, in the 1970s, and brilliantly so. And the CD ends with Paul Hindmarsh's arrangement of Britten's incidental music for J. B. Priestley's 1939 play, 'Johnson over Jordan.' It is notable for its use of jazz, particularly in the big band number 'The Spider and the Fly,' which sounds like nothing that I can recall Britten ever writing. It is luscious and even a little sexy. Who knew Britten was capable of writing this kind of music?

This budget-priced CD is a compilation put together from early 1990s performances released separately on the now-defunct Collins Classics label. Bedford as an exponent of Britten's music needs no special pleading; he is obviously the most expert Britten conductor we have. Sound is marvelous and these performances have a freshness and verve that is entirely infectious.

Warmly recommended.

TT=64:00

Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Benjamin Britten: In loving memory... Dec 27 2013
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In many stages of the world, Britten's first centennary was celebrated. And the release of this album was perfectly to pay tribute to his memory.

Joanna Mac Gregor, draws a Britten with incorporeal ambiance, achieving a memorable performance. Steuart Bedford is very expressive too as accompanist conductor, and kudos too in Paul bunyan's Overture and Johnson over jordan's Suite. The English Chamber Orchestra is at the top, once more, showing the absolute conviction and commitment they put to make this recording was one of the most interesting of the year.

An album that definitively may not be absent from your collection. Once youpurcahse it, the love for it will be instantaneous. Be my guest...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bright Britten Jan. 13 2009
By Robert S. Costic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is what made me fall in love with Britten. His other works are great, but many of them can be dark or at least emotionally distant (I'm thinking of his violin concerto and cello symphony, for examples). The works here are in contrast very bright, tuneful, and engaging.


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