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BBC Music Magazine, November 2013

The chief reason for acquiring this set is the warm, rich playing of the Northern Sinfonia; and for Steuart Bedford, who offers an interpretation that is more than a carbon-copy of the Master’s own. © BBC Music Magazine




Penguin Guide, January 2009

On Naxos…Steuart Bedford constantly gives the illusion of stage comedy rather than a studio recording. It helps that Christopher Gillett in the title-role has a clear, youthful-sounding tenor. As Lady Billows, Josephine Barstow, with rasp in the voice, is every bit as formidable as Sylvia Fisher was before, and Felicity Palmer is wonderfully characterful as her prim housekeeper, Florence Pike. The other village worthies are also strongly cast, with the love duet of Sid (Gerald Finley) and Nancy (An Taylor) tenderly touched in. What seals the set’s success is the way that in the ensembles Bedford such crispness, wittily lifting rhythms, making the music swagger. At the Naxos reissue price this is a phenomenal bargain…



Matthew Rye
The Telegraph, August 2003


Parsons
American Record Guide, August 2003

"Very clear sound puts every detail in place; countless nuances are audible. All twelve instrumentalists, with conductor Bedford at the piano, sound a brilliant virtuoso display, every instrument producing exquisitely beautiful tones. The sharp precision of the orchestra is most admirable...Other principals in the cast...simply breath the music and text and are as natural and realistic as can be...This is a triumphant performance!"



John France
MusicWeb International, July 2003

"A masterpiece - both as a work and in its presentation in this recording...The recording itself is fantastic. It is an all-star cast...The conductor is able to control the cast and orchestra to a high degree. For enthusiasts of this opera every note counts; every word is important in building up a picture of rural life. And this is what Bedford achieves...Altogether a great recording that reveals this work as the operatic masterpiece that it undoubtedly is... This is a great work, well presented and finely recorded. A must for all Britten opera enthusiasts."



John Leeman
MusicWeb International, June 2003

"This recording was made in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1996 with the city's own orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia, a chamber ensemble tailor-made for this sort of music and they play magnificently. There is a crack British cast of huge collective experience and a real feeling of ensemble effort prevails...This is a great operatic craftsman at work and the music is performed with a real sense of virtuoso ensemble...The recording quality is excellent..."



Robert Croan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 2003

"It's a thoroughly delightful score, and Naxos has assembled a starry cast beautifully molded by the baton of Britten speciaist Steuart Bedford. With Christopher Gillett's insouciant embodiment of the title part, to the strong vignettes provided by British notables Josephine Barstow (Lady Sillows) Robert Lloyd (Superintendent Budd) Gerald Finley (Sid) and Della Jones (Mrs. Herring), this bargain-priced set rivals the composer's 1964 recording (with Peter Pears as Albert). It's an up-to-date rendition that combines musical accuracy with theatrical immediacy and pungent humor in every measure."




Matthew Rye
BBC Music Magazine, April 2003

"The musicians of the Northern Sinfonia treat the score very much as extended chamber music, with the instruments almost as characters in their own right. The recorded sound is atmospheric and expertly balanced. At the new price, there's no excuse for not having one of Britten's richest but least appreciated operatic scores in your collection."






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12:56:54 PM, 28 July 2014
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