I write as one of the few survivors of the original cast of Billy Budd (Covent Garden, December 1951) and I well remember Forster coming on stage during the rehearsals filled with enthusiasm for what we were achieving. He was, of course, co-librettist with Eric Crozier of that opera six years after Peter Grimes.
My own experience in working with the composer on several other first perfromances and much else besides certainly belies the impression given in Marianne Macdonald's article. Above all, Britten's sheer professionalism, and his appreciation of it in his performers, is an abiding memory.
There are four commerical recordings of Peter Grimes available and I believe another of Billy Budd comes out next year. Ephemeral?