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The latest release from the Bay Area–based, audiophile label Reference Recordings is one of the finer introductions available to Benjamin Britten’s orchestral works. If there’s anything that the composer’s famous Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra demands, it’s a recording that faithfully conveys the various instruments’ unique timbres. Luckily, truthfulness is a hallmark of the award-winning recording engineer Keith O. Johnson. With sonics that top even Telarc’s highly praised effort from Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony, Michael Stern and his far-better-than-expected Kansas City forces deliver a lovable performance filled with color.
Color also abounds in their Sinfonia de requiem and Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes. No, Stern doesn’t top the composer’s own performances (or a number of others). Yet the sound is so much better than the competition that you’ll surely savor this recording.
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