Libor Peek, Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic created an world class ensemble and a musical atmosphere the results of which can be heard in this Britten recording. The interpretation of the Sinfonia do requiem is dramatic and the performance has virtuosity. Peiek's tempo for the opening of the work is slower than either Britten on mid-price Decca or the excellent Bedford/LSO for Collins Classics! Harmonia Mundi, but he screws up the tension thereafter in a manner that fully justifies his extra expansiveness. The fragmentation of the material of the Dies irae at the end of the movement is stunningly well played--this is always a tricky passage, but Peek and the RLPO are its masters. The phrasing of the consoling melody of the finale and the strings' playing of the second subject are additional highlights of a splendid recording, helped no doubt by recording them in their regular home. It is perhaps a rather low-level recording, but it sounds natural.
I do not know a better recorded performance of the Peter Grimes interludes. Peiek rightly includes the Passacaglia, but does not tack it on at the end; instead he incorporates it as the penultimate movement, where it fits well. He achieves the most difficult feat of all where these wonderful pieces are concerned--he makes them sound as effective here as they are in the theatre. The clarity of the textures, the ravishing string-playing in "Moonlight", the care taken to use a bell that sounds like a church bell in "Sunday Morning"--these are evidence of a deep and artistic sympathy with the music. And this grand disc is completed by a topping performance of The Young Person's Guide virtuoso playing by all departments, but the work too is presented as what it really is, a first-rate set of variations.