BaL 24.12.11 - Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
9.30 a.m. Building a Library: Chris de Souza with with a personal recommendation from the available recordings of Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.
DVD of original film: The Crown Film Unit’s film of Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967) conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. (1946) Includes narration.
CD and SACD:
English Symphony Orchestra, William Boughton
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ondrej Lenard
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis
London Symphony Orchestra, Steuart Bedford
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi
Kansas City Symphony, Michael Stern
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, Eduard van Beinum
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pesek
Christopher Lawrence, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Marc Taddei
Eric Shilling, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Karel Ancerl
Boult, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult
Sir Ralph Richardson (narrator), London Symphony Orchestra, Malcolm Sargent
Dame Edna Everage (narrator), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, John Lanchbery
Richard Baker (speaker) New Philharmonia Orchestra Leppard
Willie Rushton, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sian Edwards
There was also a VHS video film version with Brian Blessed narrating. This version, with the RPO, is unavailable, but was a useful educational tool.
I particularly like Sargent's interpretation. At the end of the fugue, the Purcell theme emerges almost imperceptively, giving it a wow factor that the composer's own version somehow lacks.
I remember seeing the original film at school and it seemed a period piece even then (1963). I think Britten gives a cracking performance of the fugue but I haven't heard Sargent (not since seeing the film, at least) for comparison.
This was an indispensable part of my curriculum (I was never troubled by the National version, which would probably have labelled me elitist!) in my teaching days. I think my favourite version had Ralph Richardson narrating.
I've recently rediscovered it (stripped of scholastic overtones) in a thrilling version by the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern - it's a great piece.
Always think that YPG is the finest Concerto for Orchestra yet written (when performed without narration of course). Pity about the title though - should have stuck to Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell.
I agree with you, but I thought that when performed without the narration it is called Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell. Surely the 'Young Person ...' title should only be used with the narration?
Originally Posted by LeMartinPecheur