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Britten: Piano Concerto | Violin Concerto [Tasmin Little; Howard Shelley; Edward Gardner] [Chandos: CHAN 10764]

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Britten: Piano Concerto - Violin Concerto
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Product details

  • Conductor: Edward Gardner
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten
  • Audio CD (29 April 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00C30ZA64
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,051 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Violin Concerto, Op. 15 - Howard Shelley/BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  2. Piano Concerto, Op. 13 (1945 version as well as original third movement, Recitative and Aria) - Howard Shelley/BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Product description

Product Description

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 disc 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.'

Review

Britten's Piano Concerto must surely be one of the greatest piano concertos of the twentieth century -thus Howard Shelley's opening comment in his note from the performer in the accompanying booklet, a comment which has never enjoyed universal agreement. Even today they are some who simply do not grasp what the work is about. But then, they haven't heard this performance. I have been waiting for some time to hear Tasmin Little in this violin concerto and she does not disappoint. In total this is a simply magnificent recording which it would be impossible to improve upon. IRR OUTSTANDING --IRR, June'13

This may not be a flawless reading( some of Tasmin Little's double stopping being just short of immaculate), but Little and Gardner plumb its emotional heart in a performance of great passion and spontaneity. Performance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine, July'13

Edward Gardner's operatic background is proving a major selling point for Chandos Britten series. Each new release comes as though hotfoot from the stage and the highy dramatised performance of the Pian Concerto here thrives as a result. Another string Britten release from Chandos. --Gramophone, July'13

Edward Gardner starts Britten's Piano Concerto with amazing ferocity and drive. Winds and horns make light work of their repeated quavers, and Howard Shelley relishes the fast tempo when he makes his entrance a few seconds in. What a fabulously entertaining work this is, but don t search for profundity. The sardonic edge that s found in several early Britten works is never far away, but there s so much wit and energy, and there are several moments where Britten can't resist turning on the charm. There's a beguiling soft tutti passage following the thunderous first movement cadenza, with solo woodwinds tiptoeing through a sequence of unlikely chords technically simple, but accomplished with great flair. It s a large-scale piece, but without a wasted note. Shelley excels in the third movement Passacaglia, where Britten's neat harmonic progression is treated to several unlikely transformations. The March is thrilling, and leaves an appropriately unsavoury aftertaste. Gardner and Shelley provide a bonus in the shape of Britten's original third movement, a Recitative and Aria. It's fun, though maybe a little too clever for its own good; Britten's decision to axe it was correct. The coupling is Tasmin Little's account of the emotionally-charged Violin Concerto. gorgeous.white-hot playing from the BBC Philharmonic and close-up, widescreen --Artdesk, 20/07/13

Edward Gardner's operatic background is proving a major selling point for Chandos Britten series. Each new release comes as though hotfoot from the stage and the highy dramatised performance of the Pian Concerto here thrives as a result. Another string Britten release from Chandos. --Gramophone, July'13


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