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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BRITTEN: Owen Wingrave (Film version, 2001) (PAL) 100372

This television production presents the piece evocatively and convincingly in a setting updated to 1958, with khaki battledress for the soldiers. Surprisingly, it makes Owen’s dilemma more convincing than the original over his pacifism and refusal to complete his military studies, with Gerald Finley singing and acting superbly. The unsympathetic fiancée, Kate, also seems a more complex character than before, well taken by Charlotte Hellekant, and the gallery of disagreeable family-members is strongly cast too, notably Martyn Hill as the old, unforgiving Sir Philip Wingrave and Josephine Barstow as Miss Wingrave. Peter Savidge sings well in the rôle of the tutor, Spencer Coyle, the lone voice of sanity, with Anne Dawson as Mrs Coyle and Hilton Marlton as the wimpish Lechmere. Set mainly in the Wingrave country house, the result is nicely evocative, with the misty ghost scenes sufficiently creepy. With the orchestral score evidently recorded separately by the Deutsches Symphony Orchesta of Berlin under Kent Nagano, the musical results are still well co-ordinated.

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