"The solo writing for the singers is mostly of an instrumental character, essentially un-melodic and unvocal too, with imperfect prosody. The most dramatic choral passage is the scene before the church . . . [where there] is operatic rather than oratorio writing for the massed voices . . . The score is carefully and elaborately contrived. There is something doing most of the time on the stage and in the orchestra — all plausible, and highly intelligent, and — the real life of music-drama lacking."
— Olin Downes on Peter Grimes, 1949