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Jeremy Nicholas
Gramophone, March 2020

Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (NTSC) 2.110399
Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0102V

Ma Mère l’Oye gives the young players of the Britten-Pears Orchestra the opportunity to shine…

Finally comes Britten’s Young Person’s Guide. It’s the best thing here—vivid, highly commendable playing from the youngsters in a performance that captures all the colour and exuberance of this deservedly popular score. Marin Alsop’s slightly rewritten version of Eric Crozier’s dry-as-dust original text is just about appealing enough to engage most young persons. © 2020 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Robert Cummings
MusicWeb International, January 2020

Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (NTSC) 2.110399
Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0102V

…I still find good recordings of children’s music like this new one on Naxos quite special. In fact, I can say that if you like these works, this may be the ideal recording in many ways.

For one thing, there is no other single disc gathering all these warhorse pieces together, and while each is on video with other couplings, none that I could find offered such a generous amount of music in the same genre. Moreover, the performances and production values on this Blu-ray disc are quite high. Some potential purchasers might have doubts about the skill level of the Britten-Pears Orchestra, an ensemble comprised of students and recent graduates connected with the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. They can allay their doubts and fears because this ensemble plays with great spirit and fine accuracy in these live performances.

To some viewers and listeners the strongest aspect of these performances will be the narration of conductor Marin Alsop. She is natural and very dramatic, delivering the various texts in a manner that would be especially effective with children. She doesn’t adopt a condescending or supercilious manner as some narrators have, nor does she overdo the dramatics. In short, I haven’t heard a better narrator in any of these works. As one might expect, Alsop’s conducting also divulges her total sympathies with the music as she shapes the scores effectively and, as suggested, draws fine playing from these talented youthful musicians in these live performances. Tempos, dynamics, accenting, rubato and other aspects of phrasing all fit the music’s character well, whether its Prokofiev’s deft wit, Saint-Saëns’ chameleonic colors and moods, Ravel’s child-like innocence and playfulness or Britten’s exuberance.

Thus, I thoroughly recommend this totally enjoyable recording. © 2020 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, January 2020

Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (NTSC) 2.110399
Orchestral Music - SAINT-SAËNS, C. / RAVEL, M. / PROKOFIEV, S. / BRITTEN, B. (Britten-Pears Orchestra, Alsop) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0102V

Music of particular interest to children is featured on this Naxos DVD with Marin Alsop both as conductor and narrator with the excellent Britten-Pears Orchestra. This ensemble was formed more than four decades ago by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears as a training group for young artists. … The orchestra is superb, excellent video spotlights… © 2020 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2019

A collection of works that have a connection with children are brought together, narrated by the conductor, Marin Alsop, and filmed at Snape Maltings in the UK. Poetic rhymes are used for the most extended work on the disc—The Carnival of the Animals—and are meant to amuse, thought at times it is a little naughty. It here uses a chamber orchestra, with two solo pianists, is of excellent quality. By far the most frequently played section, The Swan, is beautifully performed by the principal cello of this student ensemble. It is a great pity that the enclosed booklet makes little comment on the orchestra, its members, which arrive from around the world, coming together in Snape, a small town in the south-east of England. The instrumentalists there take part in periods of tuition that manifests itself in events staged in the famous Maltings Concert Hall. Taking its name from Benjamin Britten, and his life long companion, Peter Pears, the video was made in the years 2017 and 2018 the young people having had the good fortune of working with the conductor, Marin Alsop. The resulting concerts were filmed with Alsop acting as the narrator, that narration becoming more serious as she takes us through The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra, a searching test for the young players who give a very creditable performance. The fact that there were splicing together of passages from different concerts is visible in the Saint-Saens, but throughout the filming is very good. As one would expect from this venue, the sound quality is excellent, the result being a highly desirable gift for the children in your life. The disc is also released in Blu-ray format NBD 0102V. © 2019 David’s Review Corner





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