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English Song Series 9 - Britten: Canticles I-V


Release Date: 01/18/2005 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Philip LangridgeSteuart BedfordJean RigbyFrank Lloyd,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Thanks to Britten's own recordings of the Canticles with tenor Peter Pears (Decca), we not only have versions of these songs as near to definitive as we could hope for, but also in Pears' unique voice and style of delivery we have a standard against which to measure all tenors who subsequently take on these works. Their well-documented personal relationship aside, the fruitful result of the Britten/Pears artistic collaboration is unique in all of music, and the Canticles, which were written over a period of decades, from the 1940s to the mid-'70s, are among the most personal of Britten's Pears-influenced compositions.


Philip Langridge is an eminently credible successor to Pears and a worthy interpreter of these dramatic
Read more and involving songs, operatic in scope yet retaining a decided intimacy in their tone and instrumental settings. When this recording first was released on Collins nearly 10 years ago (1996), it was positively welcomed, and it remains a solid, complementary companion to the preeminent Britten/Pears version. Steuart Bedford, who worked with the composer late in his life, is one of today's leading authorities on performance of Britten's music, and together with Langridge he has offered some of the finest renditions of the song repertoire.


The inclusion of The Heart of the Matter--a set of Edith Sitwell poems that incorporates Canticle III and three other songs, revised by Pears in 1983 from Britten's original--makes this disc especially attractive for it apparently is the only version still in the CD catalog. Although the music on this program has been scarcely addressed on recordings, we are blessed that the few examples have been excellent. So while the world may not be in desperate need of more Britten Canticle recordings, this music's profound beauty and unique, often stunning treatment of texts (the Abraham and Isaac duet is a prime example) calls out for renewed attention, especially by listeners who want to better understand the greatest vocal music composer of the past 100 years. Get this.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Canticle I, Op. 40 "My beloved is mine" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor), Steuart Bedford (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Venue:  All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England 
Length: 7 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996) 
2.
Canticle II, Op. 51 "Abraham and Isaac" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor), Jean Rigby (Alto), Steuart Bedford (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; England 
Venue:  All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England 
Length: 16 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996) 
3.
Canticle III, Op. 55 "Still Falls the Rain" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Frank Lloyd (French Horn), Steuart Bedford (Piano), Philip Langridge (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; England 
Venue:  All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996) 
4.
Canticle IV, Op. 86 "The Journey of the Magi" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor), Gerald Finley (Baritone), Steuart Bedford (Piano),
Derek Lee Ragin (Countertenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; England 
Venue:  All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996) 
5.
Canticle V, Op. 89 "The Death of St Narcissus" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor), Osian Ellis (Harp)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; England 
Venue:  All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England 
Length: 7 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996) 
6.
Heart of the matter by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Judi Dench (Spoken Vocals), Philip Langridge (Tenor), Frank Lloyd (French Horn),
Steuart Bedford (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; England 
Length: 13 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranger: Sir Peter Pears.
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, England (03/19/1996 - 03/24/1996); Floating Earth, London, England (05/16/1996) 

Sound Samples

Canticle I, Op. 40, "My beloved is mine": Canticle I, Op. 40: My Beloved is mine
Canticle II, Op. 51, "Abraham and Isaac": Canticle II, Op. 51: Abraham and Isaac
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Prologue - Fanfare: Where are the seeds of the Universal Fire
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Reading: The earth of my heart was broken and gaped low - Fanfare
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Reading: In the hour when the sapphire of the bone
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Song: We are the darkness in the heat of the day
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Reading: In such a heat of the earth
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Canticle III, Op. 55: Still Falls the Rain
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Reading: I see Christ's wounds weep in the Rose on the wall
Canticle III, Op. 55, "Still Falls the Rain - the Raids, 1940, Night and Dawn": Epilogue - Fanfare: So, out of the dark
Canticle IV, Op. 86, "The Journey of the Magi": Canticle IV, Op. 86: Journey of the Magi
Canticle V, Op. 89, "The Death of Saint Narcissus": Canticle V, Op. 89: The Death of Saint Narcissus

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