Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

BRITTEN Sinfonietta
Jessica Miller (Savitri)
Kyu Won Han (Death)
Simon O'Neill (Satyavan)
Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater
Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia/Glen Barton Cortese
PHOENIX PHCD145 [53.26]
  AmazonUK £14.99  AmazonUS $15.77 UK readers are advised to use

Credit to Jeffrey Kaufman's Phoenix company and to Mr Cortese's Manhattan artists that they would tackle this repertoire. Cortese has already impressed Tony Duggan for his Mahler symphonies recorded on the Titanic label. I wondered how he would show in this more intimate field.

The Holst is done extremely well and the quality of Ms Miller's voice comes triumphantly through this very exposed test without losing the vulnerability that Holst clearly wanted. At this level the Phoenix is to be preferred to the Hyperion version if not to the now unavailable Janet Baker Argo version (if you can find it). Kyu Won Han is strong and secure with just a touch of American accent which might jar with some Brits. The choir and orchestra are exemplary in their painting of chamber music 'colours' and spirituality. The coupling, which is below par in total playing time, is of very high quality from an interpretative viewpoint. The poise and purity of line of the Vaughan Williams avoids a bloodless approach and is a foil to the vivacity of the Britten. Strong projection but not oppressively so.

Rewards in all this repertoire and the Savitri bids fair to be the best currently available. Pity about the 53 minutes total playing time.

Rob Barnett
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