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Britten: Serenade / 4 Chansons Francaises / Les Illuminations
 
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Britten: Serenade / 4 Chansons Francaises / Les Illuminations

1 April 2004 | Format: MP3

£7.49 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 April 2004
  • Release Date: 1 April 2004
  • Label: Chandos
  • Copyright: (C) 2004 Chandos
  • Total Length: 58:52
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001MV54U2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 558,684 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Format: Audio CD
having been a fan of Britten's string quartets etc for many years + having just returned from a visit to Britten's home of Aldeburgh + Snape Maltings, i listened afresh to this Chandos cd (from 1989 + re-relased in 2004) of some of the composers most famous non-opera vocal works : Les Illuminations (1939), the early student work :Quatre Chansons Francais (1928) + for me, most movingly the elegaic Serenade for Tenor,Horn + Strings (1943). and this cd is marvel. Felicity Lott firstly is excellent , strongly projected and powerfully rended in the popular vocal work originally writen for Peter Pears of course. Lott is excellent here with fine support from the Scottish NO under Bryden Thomson. the recorded sound is clear + well balanced also.

the second work - the Quatre Chansons are arguably the weakest , most deriviative work here owes much indeed to the earlier french canon but the performances are again fine + well recorded. its just that Britten's own more complex compostional voice has yet to appear in these works which are comparatively lightweight.

final work here is the Serenade for Tenor,Horn+Strings and although i have not as yet compared with the original Pears versions on decca, Anthony Rolfe Johnson singing is deeply expressive, + yes very moving . his phrasing of the line "bugle,blow,answer,echoes,answer,dying,dying" for the Nocturne,gets me every time. a comparison however to Robert Tear with Marriner+the Northern Sinfonia from 1971 still favours Johnson on chandos,for his deeper expressive insights i feel + greater clarity of recording.

all in all - a "new" marvel for me + a hugely successful release worthy of the Britten vocal works legacy. four stars going on five. now onto the Peter Pears versions..
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By richard.md.scott@hotmail.co.uk on 23 Mar. 2008
Format: Audio CD
I love Britten's music and Les Illuminations and Serenade are two of his most brilliant works. Felicity Lott sings wonderfully - she has a incredible technique and feel for the music, and the drama and excitement she puts into the performance make it even better. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is one of my very favourite singers, and my definite #1 for singing Britten (he has recorded quite a lot, and it is all perfect).

My only problem is the 4 french songs. I just don't like them. Of course, they are performed excellently, I just don't like them. But the fact that I'm still giving this CD 5 stars, despite these, surely is testament to the quality of the other two pieces...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Rare Chance to hear Quatre Chansons Françaises 1 Mar. 2006
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Though there are many recordings of two of Benjamin Britten's most loved song cycles included on this CD, there are very few opportunities to hear the 'Quatre Chansons Françaises' and that is certainly reason enough to add this fine recording to your library.

Felicity Lott has a limpid voice which seems to warm to the French idiom as these two French cycles progress. Her's is not a voice that can float a glissando the way some sopranos (or tenors) can, but her involvement with the poetry of the texts is obvious. Her 'Les Illuminations' is a bit mannered at points but the mannerisms fit the words.

It is in the Quatre Chansons that she shines and the balance between her vocalizing with the Scottish National Orchestra (not just the strings as in the 'Les Illuminations') as conducted by longtime Britten conductor Bryden Thomson is superb. This is a lovely, moody cycle written with the poetry of Paul Verlaine and Victor Hugo and is one deserving of more performances ...and recordings.

The third cycle on this well engineered CD is Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. The always-reliable Anthony Rolfe Johnson is the effective tenor and Michael supplies seamless horn obbligato. The performance may not erase memories of some of your favorites, but it is solid and the overall sound offered by the orchestra and conductor make this a very solid recording. Recommended. Grady Harp, March 06
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