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Posted October 1, 2010
Ian Bostridge continues to astound with the variety of his repertoire and the glowing beauty of his richly burnished tenor voice and his enormous musicality. Here he sings three of Benjamin Britten's finest works and with him in collaboration are Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. An embarrassment of riches! Each of the three cycles feels as though Bostridge and Rattle are in complete agreement with Britten's intentions. 'Les Illuminations', designated as a work 'for high voice and strings', here benefits greatly from the timbre of Bostridge's baritone-infused tenor voice. The poems by Rimbaud were written by a man for a man and thus it feels more appropriate to have the male voice singing (though the numerous performances by sopranos do hold a special glow). Supported by some of the most lush strings sound ever recorded, Bostridge sings the songs with more passion than most. These are heartfelt and not the cerebral exercise they often receive. Yes, there are moments when memories of other performances rise - such as during the downward glissando of 'et je danse' when other singers caress every note in the fall. But the overall effect is very dramatic and, well, luminous. 'Serenade for tenor, horn and strings' finds Radek Baborak in the horn role. Again the pulsing Berlin strings under Rattle are almost unbearably beautiful. Bostridge's perfect diction again demonstrates how Britten was the finest composer for the English language. The cycle is involving in its survey of an interesting variety of poems. Likewise the Nocturne 'for tenor, seven obbligato instruments an strings' is a mature work of Britten's and has echoes of phrases from what by the time of its composition were closely identified with the 'Britten sound'. Again Bostridge sings with such purity of line and intense communication. His voice and thinking are married in a perfect effect. Perhaps it is the fact that Bostridge commits his concert time to demanding lieder recitals with piano that makes him one of the most sought after vocal artists of the day. When he steps in front of an orchestra, especially such as the Berlin ensemble with Rattle on the podium, he is wholly at home with these beautiful but technically difficult cycles, and the degree of communication of both the music and the poetry are extraordinary. An added bonus with this CD is the personal set of program notes written by Bostridge. Highly recommended. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.