Classical Music Buzz > London Philharmonic Orchestra News > Reviews: Britten’s ‘Billy Budd’ ...

The London Philharmonic Orchestra continues its annual residency at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, where it has appeared every summer for 50 years. Saturday 10 August saw the first performance this summer of Britten’s Billy Budd – a revival of the 2010 Festival production. It is directed by Michael Grandage, and Andrew Davis conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Full cast and production credits

Here are the reviews from Saturday’s opening performance:

‘The score itself represents the surging, foaming sea, and with Andrew Davis at the helm the strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion discharge that function consummately.’ (5 stars)
Michael Church, The Independent

‘With Andrew Davis conducting an incandescent London Philharmonic Orchestra … this is Glyndebourne at its matchless best.’ (5 stars)
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

‘Glyndebourne’s chorus is on unbeatable form, and the London Philharmonic conveys the sweep of the score under conductor Andrew Davis’ (5 stars)
George Hall, The Guardian

‘This is the final production of Vladimir Jurowski’s last season as Glyndebourne’s Music Director; no better tribute could be imagined.’ (5 stars)
Melanie Eskenazi,

‘I have to say that I have never heard this opera performed better and a large part of the reason for this is down to Andrew Davis’ handling of the LPO. The orchestral entries were razor sharp and the music was articulated with real precision. The balance was spot-on and the orchestral textures remained light and transparent.’
Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard International

‘A perfect piece of musical storytelling. It should be mandatory viewing for lovers and haters of opera alike.’
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk

‘The London Philharmonic Orchestra gave an exemplary demonstration of how every different combination can be weighted to bring out the composer’s intent, with virtuosic playing in the solo passages and elemental force in the tutti. To achieve such a level of detail, conductor Andrew Davis must have put in a gigantic level of preparation with his orchestra.’ (5 stars)
David Karlin, Bachtrack

‘Andrew Davis conducts with white hot intensity and the LPO responds with playing that is quite simply incandescent from start to finish.’ (5 stars)
What’s On Stage

‘From quiet prayer to battle-ready bombast, the superb chorus wield a rare emotional power, while the score’s lushest and most redemptive chords hover questioningly on a breathtaking split-second delay from Andrew Davies’ down beat.’
Eleanor Knight, The Argus

‘It was inspiring to hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra respond with such verve and virtuosity to Andrew Davis, and to admire the conductor’s attention to the music’s coloration. He located every emotional nuance within the opera’s psychology so that even passages of apparent repose, such as Billy’s heart-stopping lament in the Darbies before he is hanged, prickled with nascent horror.’
Mark Valencia, Classical Source

‘This stunningly powerful production must surely be a high point of this year’s Britten centenary celebrations.’
Edward Bhesania, The Stage

‘A celebratory production’
The Economist

‘The London Philharmonic Orchestra were on strong form, giving us some thrilling playing and some fine subtle moments. Britten uses a big orchestra, and the big moments are loud but here were never less than expressive. Confidently in charge was Andrew Davis, giving a fine and thoughtful account of the score.’
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill (blog)

‘The  big set-pieces were thrillingly immediate, conductor Andrew Davis pulling the score up from great groundswells of string basses and giving it mobility through brilliantly articulate woodwinds and trumpets. The London Philharmonic Orchestra again proved what an asset they are to Glyndebourne and how exciting they sound in this perfect house where the balance between pit and stage is never an issue.’
Edward Seckerson (blog)

‘Musical values are very high indeed. Andrew Davis must be thanked in large part for allowing stage and score to blend with such choreographic and psychological precision – with conducting like this, suspension of disbelief is almost not required, so transported are you by the events that are unfolding. Singers are always fully audible and ideally supported by the superb playing of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and orchestral textures, whether glowering or shimmering, unfailingly make a dramatic as well as musical impact.’
Capriccio (blog)

‘Conductor Andrew Davis produced wonderful deep growls from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and for me this production is the highlight of the 2013 Glyndebourne season. Utterly unmissable.’
Mark Ronan (blog)


Until the end of this year’s Festival on 25 August, the Orchestra will give six more performances of Billy Budd, interspersed with performances of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale with Enrique Mazzola (a revival of the 2011 Tour production). Visit the Glyndebourne website for more details.

If you can’t make it to Glyndebourne this summer, how about the semi-staged performance of Billy Budd with the same cast and orchestra at the BBC Proms on Tuesday 27 August? Tickets are still available – more information on the Proms website.

Billy Budd (recorded live in 2010) will be broadcast in cinemas across the UK and online from 19 August 2013 – venues and booking details on the ‘In Cinemas’ tab here.

Tagged: billy budd, Britten, davis, glyndebourne, grandage, imbrailo, opera, padmore, sherratt
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