Britten: Billy Budd - Kerns, Lewis, Robinson; Solti. London, 1964
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Although Benjamin Britten and Georg Solti are names that rarely find themselves in the same sentence, it was only natural that their paths would cross given that during the 60s Britten was England's reigning composer and Solti was England's reigning operatic conductor. The results are quite surprising and Solti proves that not only was he a musician of the highest order, but he had the ability to recognize the dramatic seed even in styles that may have been outside his comfort zone. In the title role, Robert Kerns displays a youthful and vigorous stage presence. His Budd is guileless and energetic. However, in my opinion the true focus of this opera is in fact Captain Vere which brings me to the true "selling point" of this recording: Richard Lewis. Lewis, in my opinion, represents the ideal incarnation of an "English Tenor." His voice has an ethereal and heady quality without seeming weak or effeminate and his diction is nothing short of perfect. Forbes Robinson delivers a wonderfully villainous Claggart. The sound is excellent. At times the announcer interjects brief descriptions before each scene. Depending on your point of view this can either be irritating or helpful.