Roderick Williams

One LP: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten

I’ve chosen the Britten recording of his own opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Decca recording.

It’s special because it is one of many LPs that my parents owned when I was a small boy and then a teenager. I could almost have gone for any one of them in a sense because when you rifle through your parents record collection it’s less the music or the artists or the orchestras that impresses you, it’s the colours and shapes on the front cover. And there are some really iconic ones – the War Requiem with the jet black for example or this one in particular. I poured over the names on the front cover, which were written in white. They were kind of magical, mystical names: Peter Pears, Heather Harper and John Shirley-Quirk. They meant nothing to me as a child and then gradually had much greater resonance later on.

It was also the sounds you’d hear when my parents put this record on when I was small. I didn’t know anything about orchestras or strings or whatever so I just thought the sound at the beginning was forests moving.

It’s an album I then eventually bought myself. I’ve got plenty of vinyl LPs but I always go back to what I saw in my parent’s collection – that’s what means most to me.

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