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CHAN 10764
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CHAN 10764

Britten: Concertos

The Classical Shop
release date: May 2013

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2012


BBC Philharmonic

Edward Gardner

Howard Shelley


Tasmin Little



MediaCity UK, Salford


Brian Pidgeon

Mike George

Ralph Couzens



Stephen Rinker

Denise Else


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 75:53
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Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 13

  (1938, revised 1945)  
  To Lennox Berkeley  
1 I Toccata. Allegro molto e con brio - Vivace - 11:42
  Sempre molto animato - Molto animato - Cadenza - Molto più lento e tranquillo - Molto vivace  
2 II Waltz. Allegretto - Poco a poco più mosso - 5:03
  Vivace ma tranquillo - Tempo I, con slancio  
3 III Impromptu. Andante lento - Con moto - Largamente - 8:15
  Poco a poco più mosso - Tempo I -  
4 IV March. Allegro moderato, sempre alla marcia - 8:01
  Molto ritmico - Molto animato - Quasi cadenza, ma in  
  tempo - Largamente - Grandioso - Molto più presto  
 Howard Shelley piano

Original Third Movement from Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 13

  Recitative and Aria. Lento - Andante - Tempo I -  
  Andante - Tempo I - Allegro molto - Presto - Tempo di  
  valse - Lento maestoso - Agitato - Lento molto - Largamente - Tranquillo (a tempo) - Più lento  
 Howard Shelley piano

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 15

  (1938-39, revised 1950, 1954, and 1965)  
  To Henry Boys  
6 I Moderato con moto - Animando - Agitato - 9:36
  Poco a poco rilasciando - Tempo I - A tempo tranquillo -  
7 II Vivace - L'istesso tempo - Poco più lento - Tempo I - 9:10
  Animando - Largamente (l'istesso tempo) - Cadenza -  
8 III Passacaglia. Andante lento (un poco meno mosso) - 14:33
  Con moto - Pesante - Tranquillo - Con moto - Poco animando - Con moto - Alla marcia - Molto animato -  
  Tempo I - Largamente (lento) - Lento e solenne - Più lento  
 Tasmin Little violin

The prolific nature of Benjamin Britten’s operatic and vocal output makes it is all too easy to forget that prior to the phenomenal success of Peter Grimes in 1945, he was primarily known as a composer of vividly orchestrated instrumental music. Tying in with the 100-year anniversary in 2013 of the composer’s birth, we here present two such works, performed by the BBC Philharmonic under Edward Gardner. Tasmin Little and Howard Shelley are the soloists in the Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto, respectively.
These concertos reflect two very different sides to the composer’s character. The Violin Concerto, which Britten completed in 1939, is essentially tragic and weighty in tone, perhaps reflecting his growing concern with the escalation of war-related hostilities. On the other hand, the Piano Concerto, written the previous year, is generally lighter and brighter, more transparent and simpler in style.
On this album we have recorded the Piano Concerto in Britten’s familiar revision of 1945, but we also include the original third movement, ‘Recitative and Aria’, which Britten replaced with a new and extended movement entitled ‘Impromptu’. Howard Shelley writes of the decision Britten made to revise the concerto: ‘Why he found it necessary to replace the slow movement, I cannot quite understand – as far as I am concerned both options are masterpieces, and with this in mind we have also recorded the original version, which is fantastical and fabulous, jazzy and endlessly dramatic.’
The Violin Concerto was the first composition Britten completed after arriving in the US in 1939. Our soloist, Tasmin Little, writes of the work: ‘One of the miracles of the piece is the way that the structure is conceived as an ongoing journey. Britten does not conform to the usual pattern of the classical concerto... rather the shape of the work emerges organically as each thought leads invariably to the next. A favourite moment of mine is near the end of the first movement where the violins play the opening melody and I weave in and around them with delicate pizzicato.’

 “… The reason this recording of Britten’s early concertos is so good lies in the conducting of Edward Gardner. He makes such sense of the music ; on a moment-to-moment basis he understands the point of what Britten wrote, and conveys it to his sharply responsive orchestra … Adding to the disc’s quality is the sound: exceptionally clean and natural. This is one of the most distinguished releases yet in Britten’s centenary year.”

Phillip Scott – Fanfare – November/December 2013


“…This is definitely a keeper.”


Ronald E Grames – Fanfare – November/December 2013

 "... white-hot playing from the BBC Philharmonic and close-up, widescreen Chandos sound. "

Graham Rickson - - 20 July 2013

“...another strong Britten release from Chandos.”
Richard Fairman – Gramophone magazine – July 2013    

“... fine performances of the Violin work by Tasmin Little with the BBC Philharmonic under Edward Gardner; while Howard Shelley is the soloist in the Piano Concerto... this release from Chandos can be recommended ...”
Peter Spaull – Liverpool Daily Post – June  2013

Performance ****      Recording *****

Helen Wallace – BBC Music magazine – July 2013   

“... A rapturous disc.”  *****

Andrew Clark – The Financial Times – 18-19 May 2013

 IRR Outstanding

“... this is a simply magnificent recording which it would be impossible to improve upon.”

Robert Matthew-Walker – International Record Review – June 2013

  Album of the Week

“These youthful concertos, written in Britten’s early to mid-thirties, have enjoyed a remarkable renaissance since the composer recorded revised versions with Mark Lubotsky (violin) and Sviatoslav Richter (piano) in 1970. These remain classics accounts. This coupling showcases two superb contemporary exponents. Shelley yields nothing in wit and pianistic flair to Richter, and gives us a bonus in the original third movements ... The Violin Concerto  ... Little’s interpretation strikes me as one of the finest committed to disc ... Even though her partnership with Gardner is new in the work, their dramatic and emotional conception is unified, and particularly arresting in the sizzling central movement’s vivace, the timpani-accompanied cadenza and the closing passacaglia, dying into nothingness with devastating effect.””

Hugh Canning -  The Sunday Times – 26 May 2013                 

            CD of the Week
“Perhaps the best new recording thus far of Benjamin Britten’s centenary year ... Tasmin Little is inspired throughout the Violin Concerto, and Howard Shelley virtuosic in the Piano Concerto ... Ed Gardner has long been a Britten specialist, and he and the BBC Philharmonic provide an eloquently idiomatic backcloth. Chandos’s recording is also, as ever, first-class...”
David Mellor – Daily Mail – 12 May 2013

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