WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Unknown Britten / Piau, Hind, Watkins, Collins


Release Date: 10/27/2009 
Label:  Nmc   Catalog #: 140   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Sandrine PiauRolf HindMichael ThompsonRichard Watkins,   ... 
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


Purists likely will complain that the material presented here is not only "unknown" Britten, but more exactly "uncompleted" and/or "unused" Britten. But if they ignore this release for that reason, they will miss a very interesting – and engaging – program that, while not offering any surprising discoveries, nevertheless contains some quite substantial, fully formed entries along with the uncompleted material. The substantial bits include three songs – which Britten finished but didn't orchestrate--that were intended for but ultimately omitted from Les Illuminations. The longest of these, "Aube," is a very impressive piece on its own, longer than any among the
Read more 10 songs Britten did use – and which we also hear, superbly sung by soprano Sandrine Piau. Another substantial work is the Rondo Concertante, a 1930 piece for piano and strings that, although never completed, runs to nearly 15 minutes. In this case, especially in the second-movement Lento, with its interminably long, tedious exposition in octaves, you realize that this was a work that "needs work," but it's definitely Britten and it's certainly a challenge for the pianist.

Nearly all of the pieces here were in some way brought to performing condition by Colin Matthews, whether orchestrating the three Les Illuminations songs, reforming a couple of Britten's existing works to make the unfinished Clarinet Concerto into a three-movement concert piece, or turning sketches into playable form, such as for the wonderful In memoriam Dennis Brain, for four horns and strings that Britten began in January, 1958. In every case Matthews was scrupulously respectful of Britten's original writing and did his best to preserve the composer's ideas and structures while enabling the music to stand more or less on its own in performance. And, except for the Dennis Brain piece and the Untitled Fragment for strings, both of which just sort of quietly end, Matthews has given performers some fine material –particularly "Aube" and the Movements for a Clarinet Concerto – for addition to the concert repertoire.

The performances are uniformly excellent, particularly the above-mentioned Sandrine Piau, the Northern Sinfonia strings, and pianist Rolf Hind, who has some very demanding music in front of him! All is captured in stellar sound, accompanied by informative notes that explain the context and derivation of each piece. Highly recommended.

– David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Les illuminations, Op. 18 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Sandrine Piau (Soprano)
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
2. Rondo Concertante for Piano and Strings by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930 
3. In memoriam Dennis Brain by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Michael Thompson (French Horn), Richard Watkins (French Horn)
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958 
4. Untitled Fragment for Strings by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930 
5. Concerto movement for Clarinet by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Michael Collins (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
6. Variations (12) on a theme for Piano by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; England 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook