Sunday, 17 August 2008

Britten Abroad: A Selection of settings of Texts from across the English Channel

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22 (1940) The Poet’s Echo, Op. 76 (1965) Four French Folksong Arrangements: (La Noël passée; Voici le Printemps; Fileuse; Le roi s’en va-t’en chasse) (1942) Um Mitternacht (c. 1960) Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente, Op. 61 (1958) Four French Folksong Arrangements: (La belle est au jardin d’amour; Il est quelqu’un sur terre; Eho! Eho!; Quand j’étais chez mon père) (1942)

I recently reviewed this attractive CD for MusicWeb International and began by giving a brief overview of my introduction to BB…
“The first Britten songs I ever heard were the song cycles Winter Words and the Michelangelo Sonnets. They were a part of the superb Decca Eclipse series that was so influential in the early seventies. In fact, I think I still have the old vinyl recording in my library – I guess I kept it for sentimental reasons and for the beautiful photograph. Of course the Peter Pears/ Benjamin Britten recording of these songs have been released on CD and are no doubt essential discs in every Britten enthusiast’s collection. Yet it is important that these works are reinterpreted for each generation, and what was an appropriate style of singing in the 1940s may be less satisfactory sixty years later...”
I was impressed with the programme of music on this CD as well as the production – I concluded:-
“What we have here is a wonderful CD. I accept that not all the pieces presented may be everyone’s cup of tea. Certainly I needed to do a double-take on The Poet’s Echo. But taken in the round it is a fine presentation of a selection of the composer’s works. It covers that which is well-known, such as the Sonnets and works from the ‘hidden’ repertoire such as the Um Mitternacht and the folksong settings.
The singing and the playing are superb, the presentation is second to none and the programme notes are ideal. All in all, this is a fine production.”

Please read my full review and see details of the CD at MusicWeb International

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