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Re: GG in Brandenburg 5 - Britten

>The set I've never heard that I want to hear is Benjamin Britten's.  I've
>heard it's among the best of the century.  Any opinions?

English Chamber Orchestra, 1968, modern instruments (including a
modern-style harpsichord).

This set is elegantly and clearly done in a rather straightforward
style...sort of the typical ECO or ASMF/Marriner type of Bach performance.
Tempos are very steady but graceful, not stiff or pushed.  Good tone and
textural clarity: be pleasant, play all the right notes beautifully, flow
from beginning to end, and offend no one (unless they're offended by
neutrality itself).

I'd put it among the best I've heard in that style.  Whether it's "among the
best of the century" depends whether one likes that style for Bach ("just
the facts, ma'am"), or whether one prefers a more detailed and personalized
interpretation, more intensity and involvement.

Personally it doesn't really hold my attention very well, because the notes
are so familiar and there are no surprises, nothing to ponder during or
after the performance.  Whenever I listen to it I find that mentally I've
tuned out for a while, and everything is still dependably in place when I
come back.  I expect more out of life (and Bach performance) than that.

I suspect that, everything else being equal, this dependable and clean
Britten recording would appeal more directly to GG detractors than to GG
fans.  The selfless objectivist approach (don't fix what's not broken) is
pretty much the opposite of GG's probing style of playing music (rethink

Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
Dayton VA