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Britten: Serenade for tenor horn and strings; Finzi: Dies Natalis Hybrid SACD

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Mark Padmore & Stephen Bell & Jacqueline Shave
  • Conductor: Jacqueline Shave
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten, Gerald Finzi
  • Audio CD (7 May 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Usa
  • ASIN: B006H99HIE
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,167 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Prologue - Various Performers
2. Pastoral - Various Performers
3. Nocturne - Various Performers
4. Elegy - Various Performers
5. Dirge - Various Performers
6. Hymn - Various Performers
7. Sonnet - Various Performers
8. Epilogue - Various Performers
9. On a Poet's Lips I Slept - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
10. Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
11. Encinctured With a Twine of Leaves - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
12. Midnight's Bell Goes Ting, Ting, Ting - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
13. But That Night When On My Bed I Lay - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
14. She Sleeps On Soft, Last Breaths - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
15. What Is More Gentle Than a Wind in Summer? - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
16. When Most I Wink, Then Do Mine Eyes Best See - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
17. Intrada - Britten Sinfonia
18. Rhapsody - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
19. The Rapture - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
20. Wonder - Mark Padmore/Britten Sinfonia
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

HMF 807552; HARMONIA MUNDI - Francia; Classica Orchestrale


Celebrated tenor Mark Padmore joins the Britten Sinfonia in some of the most beautiful English music for voice and orchestra. The centrepiece is Britten's magical evocation of twilight and nightfall, the 'Serenade' (with Stephen Bell, horn). In Gerald Finzi's war-time cycle 'Dies natalis', the ecstatic mood reflects a child's wide-eyed wonder at the world. Britten's poignant 'Nocturne' completes the programme. --IRR OUTSTANDING: International Record Review, April 2012

There is no conductor for these classic English works, which receive excellent performances from musicians who know them well. Mark Padmore has few, if any, superiors in the Britten works. Stephen Bell is a poetic soloist in the evocative Serenade. Both can be heard at their best in the Blake Elegy. In the Nocturne, the all-round virtuosity of the instrumentalists is thrilling. Finzi's Dies Natalis in turn is beautifully sung and played. --The Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2012

A release that exudes quality. --Time Out

Mark Padmore's new recording is terrific - his voice is expressive, beautiful and terrifying by turns...Finzi s unforced melodic gifts are balm after 50 minutes of death-haunted Britten, and Padmore sings with such sweetness that you ll convince yourself that Finzi was an underrated genius. --Graham Rickson,, 16 June 2012

The crispness and clarity of diction, with an added degree of pungency to the more disturbing poems, brings a new dimension to these Britten performances ... a superb release --Yorkshire Post August 2012

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Entartete Musik on 23 May 2012
Format: Audio CD
Mark Padmore is the melancholic voice of today. His Schubert cycles provided particularly rueful and broken readings of already fragmentary narratives. And he has brought the same intensity to his performances as the evangelists in Bach's Passions, in concert, on stage and on record. It is to those strengths, or rather his strength at portraying weakness and woe, that this latest disc plays.

Britten's song cycles fit Padmore's poetic insights well. There's a weary beauty to his sound, which the Britten Sinfonia answers in refined terms. Throughout the opening of the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, they create an eerie mixture of stasis and silence, while Padmore's flared vowels and lively consonants bring the text to life. Never languishing, chasing Stephen Bell's nimble calls through the 'Hymn', this is a spirited but spiritual reading of Britten's nocturnal postcards.

As the composer retreats further into the dark with his Nocturne, Padmore follows softly after. Floating lines, as if they might break, his incantations become hypnotic, perched on top of rocking orchestral murmurs. The whispered urgency of 'What is more gentle than a wind in summer?' recalls Peter Quint, with the obbligato woodwind adding strange acidic wit. Despite considerable competition - including Pears, Langridge and Bostridge, to name but three - Padmore's plangent tones and acute understanding of the text provide a modern match.

But what enlivens Britten does not translate to Finzi's Dies natalis. The work may share Britten's harmonic intensity, but the calm and sanguinity of Traherne's poetry places it on a more heavenly plane. The Britten Sinfonia labours 'The Rapture' and Padmore's voice feels too rich for Finzi's 'spotless and pure' cycle.
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By CanadaCollector on 20 Jan. 2015
Format: Audio CD
Some months ago, CD Review on BBC 3 reviewed all recordings of the Serenade, and gave the prize to Pregardien's BIS recording. I was so happy that the Brits had gotten past their indulgence of second-rate singers in this piece. Or if not second-rate, less than adequate. Bostridge over-sings; I can't bear it, or much of his work; Aynsley, a singer I love, does not seem really happy in the Serenade; Padmore, here, is more like Bostridge; it is as if he is trying too hard. There are others, notably Pears with Tuckwell, which is really Desert Island material, particularly 'To Sleep'. The cycle makes you realize how tailored it is to a particular voice, and Pears does get more out of the sonnet than anyone; it is an extraordinary performance which takes you where great music is supposed to. Pregardien is likewise wonderful, though his English does let him down once or twice, but not his voice; he doesn't over-interpret, while singing through the wide range all equally, unlike almost any others. He has one voice, not three. So, buy Pears and Pregardien. I think we can rest the Serenade then for a bit.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Copeley-williams on 31 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An extra gift to my Father who is thrilled. Great production
Stunning recording Clearly another successful gift for a man I love
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Near Perfect Combination of Forces 4 July 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
On this recording the selection of forces are so very well matched that it becomes a genuine collector's item. First the music - and here we have two of Benjamin Britten's most eloquent scores, the Serenade of for Tenor, Horn & Strings and the Nocturne as well as the seldom heard but impressive Dies Natalis of Gerald Finzi. Then the performers - the celebrated tenor Mark Padmore, French hornist Stephen Bell, and the Britten Sinfonia conducted with great sensitivity by Jacqueline Shave. The degree of collaboration among these artists is exemplary.

Though comparisons with other singers is a much abused means of addressing a recording, the fact that Britten wrote these two song cycles of his life partner Peter Pears always raises that sort of discussion. Mark Padmore has an ideal voice for these two Britten song cycles. He has the kind of musical sensitivity and attentiveness to textual subtleties that characterized Pears' singing. His voice is essentially light in the way that Pears' was, but his is infinitely more attractive. Its tone is clear and pure, with none of Pears' nasal quality, and can be sweet without sounding precious. Padmore's technique seems absolutely secure and while his instrument is not large, he can produce an impressive range of dynamics. He and horn player Stephen Bell deliver a terrific performance of the Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings, and Jacqueline Shave's leadership of the Britten Sinfonia is energetic and nuanced. His interpretation of the Nocturne is one of utmost sensitivity. "On a poet's lips I slept", sings Padmore at the start of the Nocturne, a less ponderous and more transient work, and that is just how it seems in these intimate and poetic performances; the sense of poems comes across with extra immediacy, as if Padmore has read the texts many times over before fitting them to the music.

Padmore again excels in bringing intelligent and sensitive, sometimes soaring musicality to the songs in Finzi's cycle Dies Natalis that is something of a novelty, but it fits well with the Britten. His harmonic language is eloquently post-Romantic, solidly in the English pastoral tradition, and his text setting relatively conventional, but the cycle is a lovely, lyrical, entirely successful exemplar of that tradition. Padmore `s warm vibrato sounds handsome in Finzi's sweeping, majestic Dies Natalis (words by Thomas Traherne) - a cycle of songs on a more lyrical, naive note, as the text portrays the world through the eyes of a child. Finzi may not have been given his due as an English composer of stature, but he most certainly holds his own here and completes the mood of the more well known Britten works. Padmore is impeccable, the Britten Sinfonia detailed and expressive and the recording bright and well staged in full sound dimension. Grady Harp, July 12
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Britten 5 Dec. 2013
By enthusiast - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent record with performances of two key Britten song cycles that really do tell us something new about the works. Padmore's voice has power as well as sensitivity and he is an extremely imaginative artist. This account of the famous and much recorded Serenade is wonderful: compelling music making! Stephen Bell's horn is excellent and the Britten Sinfonia play wonderfully. Each song is strongly characterised and memorable. With excellent recording quality this could make it a preferred choice - especially for those who have yet to get the powerful flavours of Peter Pears' singing. The Nocturne is even more striking and benefits from really stupendous playing of the obligato wind parts. Padmore's account is very different from the recordings that Pears made - he take far more risks and achieves some delicate and magical things. Finzi's Dies Natalis is new to me. I know it is a much recorded and popular work and this seems a lovely performance but I don't yet feel able to review this performance of it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Padmore is at the height of his artistry in Britten and Finzi 31 Aug. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Mark Padmore has risen to high artistic esteem in Britain, a position he deserves for his musicality. His devoted following, including reviewers at the Gramophone, is forgiving about some vocal deficits - a weak lower range, quavery vibrato at loud dynamics - in exchange for Padmore's interpretative virtues. It's much the same bargain made with Peter Pears, for whom Britten wrote both the Serenade and Nocturne. This new CD parallels Pears's stereo recording of these two works, which he owned even at an age when the voice wasn't exactly a pleasure to listen to. In the same way, Padmore offers a beautiful, wise, highly convincing reading, the best I've heard in years. And he is helped by the courageous horn playing of Stephen Bell, who comes very close to Barry Tuckwell's flashing virtuosity on the Pears recording. To tell the truth, Padmore is vocally more secure than Pears, so in many ways this is a first-choice recording for me.

The Nocturne is cut from the same cloth - a series of poems with instrumental obligato, but it has never been as popular as the Serenade, because Britten doesn't give us memorable melodies, and the poetry, all centered on the theme of night, isn't set to music as dramatically. Still, no other composer since Mahler has been so successful in creating an orchestral song cycle at this level of mastery (unless you count Zemlinsky's Lyric Symphony as a song cycle in disguise). I see that some reviewers consider Padmore less successful in the Nocturne, but he's quite remarkable, I think. The only drawback might be that Jacqueline Shave's conducting of the Britten Sinfonia feels low-key by the composer's high standards - he ranked among those select composers who were also first-rate conductors.

Gerald Finzi's legacy is largely vocal, although even there he's basically unknown in America. His solo cantata from 1938-39, Dies Natalis, is scored for tenor or soprano and strings. According to the Wikipedia entry, it was one of only two works recorded i n Finzi's lifetime before his premature death in 1946 (the composer conducted but was disappointed in the soloist, Joan Cross, in part because she was such a close friend of Britten's. Cross was the original Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes.) The idiom is a pleasant, conservative British pastorale, with texts by the metaphysical poet Thomas Traherne. It's good to hear an obscure work come forward, because Padmore uses his artistry to bring out an extra dimension of spiritual inwardness and passion.

In all, this is a superb CD, and even though it's rather late in the day for yet another Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, this one brings great pleasure.
Stellar 1 Jan. 2014
By cdgray - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Truly compelling performances. The vocalism is, shall I say, "different," but the result finds a well constructed effect to the wonderful poetry. I have known of the Finzi before, but this recording opens up new love for the work. The Britten is stellar in all respects.
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