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Recorded live this year at the Aldeburgh Festival, this release has strong presence. Steuart Bedford’s conducting is pacey and brings out the violence of the piece, and the Britten-Pears Orchestra rips into the score; the choruses of Opera North and the Guildhall School make a vivid contribution. Alan Oke’s Grimes is a damaged soul from the start – I wouldn’t sit next to this chap on a bus, and certainly not get in a boat with him. His voice has great plangency and his enunciation of the text is excellent. By ‘Now the Great Bear and Pleiades’ he is clearly tipping into madness and you can feel the tension surrounding this remarkable central performance. Giselle Allen sounds a mature but intense Ellen, David Kempster a humane Balstrode. Catherine Wyn-Rogers resists overplaying Mrs Sedley and consequently her exchanges with Ned (Charles Rice) are truly amusing. In fact it’s this sense of almost natural dramatic immediacy that is the strength of the whole performance, which is unflinching in its presentation of a community’s intolerance of a misfit.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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