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This disc brings together for the first time a comprehensive collection of all the surviving music that Benjamin Britten wrote during the 1930s for the General Post Office (GPO), Southern Railways and other organisations. It features premiere recordings of Coal Face, The Way to the Sea, Men Behind the Meters, Negroes, Peace of Britain, The King's Stamp and Telegrams, plus the first recording of the complete music for Night Mail.
The scores for this recording were specially reconstructed from manuscript and other sources held at the Britten-Pears Library, by composers Joseph Phibbs and Lloyd Moore under the supervision of Colin Matthews, Executive Producer of NMC and Director of the Britten Estate - which has funded the recording.
MIDEM CLASSICAL AWARD 2008
"Writing film scores quickly, for strictly limited performance forces, was an inestimable professional training, as was collaboration with Auden. The results, as laid out in this 10-part sequence, are fascinating."
The Sunday Times
"A catalogue hole has been filled with this conspectus of Britten’s imaginative film music of the 1930s, including the GPO Film Unit classics Coal Face and Night Mail. Perky winds, brass and percussion dominate, and Brabbins’s accounts with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group vibrate with character."
"Lashings of period-feel, especially in Simon Russell Beale's spruce delivery of the iconic 'Night Mail'."
The Independent on Sunday
"The inventive ingenuity in every fragment Britten produced is extraordinary, while the practicality and economy involved in writing for these ensembles left a more permanent mark on his music too, particularly on the scoring of his three chamber operas."
Recording date: 11-12 March 2006
Recording venue: CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Engineer: Mike Clements
Producer: Colin Matthews
Post-production on Night Mail: Ian Dearden
Editing & mastering: Emma Paffley for K & A
Cover image: From the film 'Coal Face' (C) Royal Mail Film Archive
(P) 2007 NMC Recordings Ltd