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Unknown Britten CD

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Price: £13.22 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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£13.22 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Biography

Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1913. Although he was already composing vigorously as a child, he nonetheless felt the importance of some solid guidance and in 1928 turned to the composer Frank Bridge; two years later he went to the Royal College of Music in London, studying with Arthur Benjamin, Harold Samuel and John Ireland. While still a student, he wrote his ... Read more in Amazon's Benjamin Britten Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Oct. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: NMC Records
  • ASIN: B002IKKKBO
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,755 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Les Illuminations: I FanfareSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:14£0.79  Buy MP3 
  2. Les Illuminations: II VillesSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:33£0.79  Buy MP3 
  3. Les Illuminations: IIIa PhraseSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 1:11£0.79  Buy MP3 
  4. Les Illuminations: IIIb AntiqueSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:05£0.79  Buy MP3 
  5. Les Illuminations: IV RoyauteSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 1:39£0.79  Buy MP3 
  6. Les Illuminations: V MarineSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 1:03£0.79  Buy MP3 
  7. Les Illuminations: VI InterludeSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:36£0.79  Buy MP3 
  8. Les Illuminations: VII Being BeauteousSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 4:10£0.79  Buy MP3 
  9. Les Illuminations: VIII ParadeSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:43£0.79  Buy MP3 
10. Les Illuminations:I X DepartSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 3:09£0.79  Buy MP3 
11. PhraseSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor0:54£0.79  Buy MP3 
12. AubeSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 5:01£0.79  Buy MP3 
13. À une raisonSandrine Piau, soprano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:44£0.79  Buy MP3 
14. Rondo Concertante: I Allegro moltoRolf Hind, piano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 5:38£0.79  Buy MP3 
15. Rondo Concertante: II LentoRolf Hind, piano/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 9:32£0.79  Buy MP3 
16. In memoriam Dennis Brain: I IntroductionRichard Watkins, Michael Thompson, Peter Francomb, Chris Griffiths, horns / Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 1:42£0.79  Buy MP3 
17. In memoriam Dennis Brain: II AllegroRichard Watkins, Michael Thompson, Peter Francomb, Chris Griffiths, horns / Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:22£0.79  Buy MP3 
18. Untitled Fragment for stringsNorthern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 2:54£0.79  Buy MP3 
19. Variations for solo piano: IRolf Hind, Piano 1:15£0.79  Buy MP3 
20. Variations for solo piano: IIRolf Hind, Piano 1:20£0.79  Buy MP3 
21. Variations for solo piano: IIIRolf Hind, Piano0:50£0.79  Buy MP3 
22. Variations for solo piano: IVRolf Hind, Piano 1:02£0.79  Buy MP3 
23. Variations for solo piano: IVRolf Hind, Piano 1:19£0.79  Buy MP3 
24. Variations for solo piano: VIRolf Hind, Piano 1:00£0.79  Buy MP3 
25. Movements for a Clarinet Concerto: IMichael Collins, clarinet/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 5:34£0.79  Buy MP3 
26. Movements for a Clarinet Concerto: IIMichael Collins, clarinet/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 7:17£0.79  Buy MP3 
27. Movements for a Clarinet Concerto: IIIMichael Collins, clarinet/ Northern Sinfonia/ Thomas Zehetmair, conductor 5:05£0.79  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

Unknown Britten is an intriguing title, given that the major work here is Les Illuminations; hardly an unknown quantity on disc.

Sandrine Piau makes a superb soloist – impeccable French, or course, but she brings so much more to bear with her cool, clear sound, and often seriously beautiful phrasing, floating ethereally to the centre of Rimbaud’s poetry. It’s good to be reminded that the first complete performance of Les Illuminations was given by the Swiss soprano Sophie Wyss, but “unknown” Britten?

That’s where the three extra songs come into play. Britten prepared 13 Rimbaud settings, only 10 of which made the final sequence. The other three were finished, but never orchestrated, until Colin Matthews stepped into the breach for this new recording. So after the original ending, what follows here is Phrase – a nature scene achieved through operatic artifice; then Aube – a summer dawn song, which achieves an almost Mahlerian intensity; and finally A une raison – to an imaginary being: “One beat of your finger upon the drum sets loose all sounds, and is the birth of a new harmony.”

Piau is magically accompanied by the Northern Sinfonia, conducted by Thomas Zehetmair, and even without the extra songs I’d want this disc for Les Illuminations. But there are actually eight previously unrecorded Britten pieces to discover, from an untitled Fragment for Strings by the 16-year-old student, to unfinished movements for a Rondo Concertante for piano and strings, tidied up again by Colin Matthews, who’s also managed to create Three Movements for a Clarinet Concerto, based on a discarded piece intended for Benny Goodman in 1941. That gets a tremendous performance from Michael Collins; Rolf Hind animates the piano pieces, and Michael Thompson and Richard Watkins are the horn players for ‘In memoriam Dennis Brain’, in which Britten’s anguish at the sudden death of the great horn player for whom he’d written his Serenade is keenly communicated. That’s another Colin Matthews completion, and he deserves second billing on the CD.

Buy this for Les Illuminations, but savour it for so many new discoveries. --Andrew McGregor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nico W on 18 April 2014
Format: Audio CD
I've been a fully paid-up member of the Britten fan club since seeing Peter Grimes at Covent Garden - was it really over thirty years ago? His music became something of an obsession, and my CD collection now includes pretty much everything that's been shown the light of day (a couple of tiny pieces missing!). Or so I thought. I was very excited at the prospect of this disc of 'unknown' Britten.

As Andrew McGregor says, though, Les Illuminations is hardly unknown (I have five other versions), so I thought it was a bit of a cheat opening with it. It is, really. It is only the 'missing' three songs that are unknown. But what a lovely, lovely performance of this glorious song cycle! Utterly ravishing! And the unknown extra songs are every bit as captivating as the 'official' numbers.

The really unknown things on this CD are tantalising glimpses into 'what might have been' had Britten not abandoned them, for whatever reason. On;ly one, the fragment for string orchestra is really 'juvenilia', the other pieces are all from what must be called the 'mature' Britten (but given that he wrote his first great works when he was still a schoolboy, it might be argued that there isn't, as such, any difference between his 'early' and 'mature' music).

Everything he wrote from the age of about 14 has a distinctive personal sound, and most of the pieces on this CD would have been part of the Britten 'canon' had they been completed. The Rondo Concertante opens splendidly, but it fizzles out. Britten seems to have lost interest in it. The piece written in memoriam Dennis Brain is an intriguing, dark elegy, not surprisingly inhabiting the same sound world as the Elegy from the Serenade that Britten wrote for Brain and Peter Pears. I wish he'd finished it.
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