Britten: Billy Budd - Ward, Pears, Langdon; Britten. London, 1960


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This performance of Billy Budd is notable because it captures the great Peter Pears in the role of Captain Vere. Pears was no stranger to this role, having created it in 1951 and continuing to sing it up until the famous Met production in 1979. By 1960 his voice was still in excellent shape while his understanding of the role had deepened in the decade or so that had elapsed from the premiere. Simply put, he is chilling especially in the prologue and epilogue where he considers his actions/mistakes as an old man. Joseph Ward delivers a virile and boisterous Billy. Michael Langdon's black bass is near perfect as Claggart. He is truly evil personified. Benjamin Britten displays a keen sense for his own score as well as a technique that must have been rock solid for him to navigate the architecture of this score. The sound is generally very good although there is some occasional interference.

OD 10954-2