most people will get this cd for britten's songs from the chinese, nocturnal for solo guitar, and the folk song arrangements included here, but these works are not among his best. the nocturnal is a little too verbose, and the arrangements of the folk songs aren't particularly distinctive. the chinese cycle is worthwhile, although certainly not up to the caliber of winter words or the michelangelo sonnets cycle. still, all three have moments worth hearing, particularly among the slower sections. examples include "the autumn wind" in the songs from the chinese and the first movement, "musingly", of the nocturnal.
along with these works by britten, the disc also includes other songs for guitar and voice and these are what make the disc worth getting. bream is ideal and masterful. i believe this is one of pears' later recordings, and he gets a little too carried away at times (for example, at the end of "i gave her cakes"), but he really shines in the pensive, lyrical songs of each cycle presented here, recalling his role as peter grimes. of particular note are his performance in seiber's french folk song arrangements, the first half of the walton cycle, the second lute song from britten's gloriana, and the fricker setting of shakespeare.
the sound has a few spots of static where the vocal was too loud, but they may have been present on the original recording. the liner notes don't include any of the texts, which is a pity, nor is the nocturnal divided into 8 tracks for its 8 movements. still, all in all, worth having if you're a pears or bream fan, and if you're a fan of britten you probably have this disc already.