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Essential Britten: A Pocket Guide for the Britten Centenary Paperback – 1 Nov 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571290736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571290734
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Get ahead [of the Britten centenary] with this smartly organised and attractively written guide. Eschewing a full-dress life, Bridcut expertly spans a wide gamut of genres... to capture every side of the life and work. Playful, eclectic, virtuosic, this browsable delight is like some scholarly equivalent of Britten's early showpiece, 'Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge' --Independent, 27 October 2012

'This invaluable book includes 180 pages of programme notes about his music, many pages on his life, his pets, cars and illnesses, lists of his music and record library, his views on other people's music and their views on him, plus assessments of him as a pianist, conductor and instrumentalist...this paperback is essential for anybody interested in the composer, and deserves a place in many a Christmas stocking.' --Liverpool Daily Post

'Smartly organised and attractively written guide ... playful, electric, virtuosic ... a browsable delight.' --Independent

Book Description

Essential Britten: A Pocket Guide for the Britten Centenary, by John Bridcut, is a highly approachable and readable guide to Benjamin Britten and his music for the high-profile centenary year.

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Format: Paperback
Beware! This book is essentially a reissue of John Bridcut's 'The Faber Pocket Guide to Britten' , published by Faber and Faber in 2010. If there are any differences between the two books, apart from a new title, new cover and new ISBN number, I cannot see them. I have been avidly buying the various books that have appeared in celebration of Britten's centenary year and, having enjoyed Bridcut's 'Britten's Children', I bought this title in good faith. Some warning would have been good.

As to the book itself, it is something of a curate's egg. The tone is somewhat facetious (with a 'Round Britten Quiz' at the end of each section). The overall effect is rather disappointing. Perhaps the best section is Part Five, 'the music of Britten', where Bridcut offers his by no means uncritical opinion of many of Britten's works.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book sits somewhere between a biography, a catalogue and a miscellany of trivia.
There are sections on his life year by year, what he thought of other people and vice versa, his cars, his pets, and many more. The most substantial section at the end lists all Britten's works, giving comments on each, with a 1-5 star rating, and recommended recordings.
The style of the book is very much a list of facts, and it is refreshingly free of musicological jargon.
A slight weakness of the format is that certain themes come up rather too often, being repeated in the different sections - something that could never be said of Britten's music!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book which you don't have to read cover to cover, although you will end up having read all the pages. It approaches many aspects of Britten's work and life in an unusual and engaging way. Bridcut is clearly an enthusiast and admirer, but this is a personal view and in no way sycophantic: he is not afraid to admit that he rates some of Britten's works less than others. If you are already well-informed about Britten you will find the format refreshing with its list of 'must hear works', views on Britten from other notable figures in the arts and comments on all Britten's works by genre. There is a lot packed into this small book and it would make an ideal gift.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I rarely miss the opportunity to find out more about one of my heroes but apart from the odd snippet, there is little new here and the 'miscellany' approach rather trivializes its subject.
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