Britten / Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra / Ozawa

The sound of this White Hot Stamper side two is SUPER TRANSPARENT — you can hear all the way to the back of the hall and then some! There’s so much ambience on this pressing it forced us to reevaluate the other copies in light of the sound we were discovering here.

As if that wasn’t enough, it had energy and immediacy we simply did not expect to hear. The sound is big and bold during the loud passages, but sweet and delicate when, for example, the woodwinds are spotlighted in the composition.

It’s the best sounding Young Person’s Guide I have ever heard. [It was. It’s not anymore.]

These comments apply mostly to side two. Side one was not much better than “good”: a bit compressed, not as full-bodied, and somewhat smeary.

You’re buying this copy for the Britten piece and maybe the finale of Pictures.

By the way, check out the list of instruments Britten employs: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat and A, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion (timpani, bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, side drum, wood block, xylophone, castanets, tamtam and whip), harp and strings. Sounds like audiophile heaven to me!

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

The work is based on the Rondeau from Abdelazar, written by Henry Purcell. In the introduction, the theme is initially played by the entire orchestra, then by the individual sections of the orchestra: first the woodwinds, then the brass, then the strings, and finally by the percussion.

After this introduction to the different families of the orchestra by repetitions of the theme, there is a more in-depth look at the different instrument families with variations on the theme played by individual instruments. Although it starts by featuring the piccolo and flutes, the underlying harmonic structure is maintained by the harp and strings. Each member of the woodwind family is then introduced in turn, highlighting the unique sound of each instrument. This is the reason it is called the young person’s guide to the orchestra: because of the repeating theme with different instruments showing how each instrument sounds.

This format is then copied by the strings in turn, and then by the brass and percussion, travelling through their individual variations.

After the whole orchestra has been taken in pieces, it is reassembled using an original fugue which starts with the piccolo, followed in by all the woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion in turn. Once everyone has entered, the brass are re-introduced with Purcell’s original melody while the remainder continue the fugue theme until the piece finally comes to an end after building up to a fortissimo finish.


Side One

Pictures At An Exhibition – Part I

Promenade; Gnomes; Promenade 
The Old Castle; Promenade 
Bydlo; Promenade 
Ballet Of The Chicks In Their Shells 
Samuel Goldenberg And Schmuyle 
The Marketplace At Limoges 
Catacombs: Con Mortuis In Lingua Mortua

Side Two

Pictures At An Exhibition – Part II

The Hut Of Baba Yaga 
The Great Gate At Kiev

The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, Op. 34