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CHAN 10192
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CHAN 10192

Britten: Les Illuminations/ Quatre Chansons Françaises/Serenade

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2004

Originally recorded in 2003

Artists:

Royal Scottish National Orchestra


Bryden Thomson


Michael Thompson

horn†

Felicity Lott

soprano*

Anthony Rolfe Johnson

tenor†

Venue:

Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow



Producer:

Brian Couzens



Engineer:

Ralph Couzens


Janet Middlebrook

(Assistant)

Record Label
Chandos Classics

Genre:

Orchestral & Concertos


Vocal & Song

Total Time - 58:33
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BENJAMIN BRITTEN

(1913-1976)
Select Complete Single Disc for
   
 

Les illuminations, Op. 18*

23:42  
  For soprano and string orchestra  
  Texs by Arthur Rimbaud  
1 I Fanfare. Maestoso - Largamente 2:04
2 II Villes. Allegro energico 2:37
3 IIIA Phrase. Lento ed estatico 1:09
4 IIIB Antique. Allegretto, un poco mosso 2:14
5 IV Royauté. Allegro maestoso 1:38
6 V Marine. Allegro con brio 1:03
7 VI Interlude. Moderato con brio 2:22
8 VII Being Beauteous. Lento ma comodo 4:19
9 VIII Parade. Alla marcia 2:55
10 IX Départ. Largo mesto - Largamente 2:57
   
 

Quatre Chansons françaises*

13:02  
  For soprano and orchestra  
  Texts by Victor Hugo and Paul Verlaine  
11 1 Nuits de juin. Lento e molto rubato 2:39
12 2 Sagesse. Lento ma non tropo 3:02
13 3 L'Enfance. Animato 4:53
14 4 Chanson d'automne. Moderato con molto ma sempre colla voce 2:25
   
 

Serenade, Op. 31†

22:19  
  For tenor, horn and string orchestra  
  Texts by Tennyson, Keats, Blake, Jonson and Cotton  
15 Prologue. Andante 1:04
16 Pastoral. Lento 3:20
17 Nocturne. Maestoso 3:31
18 Elegy. Andante appassionato 3:43
19 Dirge. Alla marcia grave 3:36
20 Hymn. Presto e leggiero 2:02
21 Sonnet. Adagio 3:53
22 Epilogue. Andante 1:07
Chandos’ acclaimed recordings of these important works by Benjamin Britten are now available at mid-price on its Classics label.

The programme includes the Quatre Chansons françaises, one of Britten’s earliest recorded works, alongside the two works from the composer’s fertile middle years, and it thus offers an absorbing insight into the composer’s lifelong fascination with word setting.

These performances were very highly regarded when first released.


One of Britten’s first creative tasks on arriving in America in May 1939 was the completion of Les Illuminations, Op. 18, a song cycle for the soprano Sophie Wyss. These fragmentary, erotic, half-apprehended visions of Rimbaud are perhaps best approached through Britten’s own acute musical stylization of them – vivid, direct, contemplative, tender or grotesque as the case may be. Throughout, the virtuosity of the solo soprano is brilliantly matched by that of the iridescent string orchestra.
Benjamin Britten composed his Quatre Chansons françaises in the summer of 1928, before reaching his fifteenth birthday. That words and music were by now the schoolboy composer’s natural vehicle of expression is confirmed by the many touching Walter de la Mare settings of these years, but in this work there is a clear indication of an ambition to broaden expressive horizons. Moreover, in the third song there occurs a strange premonition of an important motif of Britten’s creative maturity: the theme of childhood and death, innocence and corrupting experience.
Serenade is a work that defines Britten’s genius to perfection. Here is a flowering of that uncanny response to word and image which, after close collaboration with some of the finest poets of the Thirties, had by now the added stimulus of a close working relationship with a singer of unique sensibility, the tenor Peter Pears, for whom this ‘Nocturne’ was composed. Counterpointing and echoing the vocal line is the solo horn. The poems set by Britten centre on night, sleep and dreams – a realm of experience which the composer was subsequently to make particularly his own.



'These are profoundly symphathetic performances, with Lott at her best in the 14-year-old composer's precocious settings of Hugo and Verlaine. Bryden Thomson and the RSNO support attentively, and the recordings are truthful and atmostpheric in the best Chandos tradition.'
Gramophone

'The playing of the Scots is quite brilliant and imaginative, and strong underpinning for the singers. Lott sings in a precise, pointed way, full of arch humour, subtly using her French diction to make many a point.'
American Record Review

'These are profoundly symphathetic performances, with Lott at her best in the 14-year-old composer's precocious settings of Hugo and Verlaine. Bryden Thomson and the RSNO support attentively, and the recordings are truthful and atmostpheric in the best Chandos tradition.'
Gramophone



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