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Britten: The Canticles / Bostridge, Daniels, Drake, Et Al


Release Date: 11/05/2002 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 45525   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenTraditional
Performer:  Ian BostridgeJulius DrakeDavid DanielsTimothy Brown,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


Now here is some really fine singing, with overall performances of the difficult but ever-fascinating and involving Canticles as good as they've ever been done on recordings. Ian Bostridge again proves why he's arguably today's numero uno tenor in non-operatic song repertoire (not to take anything away from his notable presence on the opera stage), delivering incisive interpretations of exquisite versatility, lyricism, dynamic force, and irresistible emotional power. His rendition of Canticle III, with its remarkably sustained energy and seamless, purposeful flow, rivals Peter Pears' own inspired performance with Benjamin Britten at the piano (and the inimitable Dennis Brain making the horn
Read more sound nearly like a human voice in the little duet with Pears at the work's end), in a 1956 Aldeburgh concert (BBC). When he's joined by countertenor David Daniels in Canticle II, you can't imagine two voices more perfectly complementary in color nor more sympathetic in expressive manner. The opening is ethereal, eerie, and exactly right--although Philip Langridge and contralto Jean Rigby are every bit as wonderful in their performance for Collins, an out-of-print set well worth tracking down. Christopher Maltman's rich, warm baritone is similarly well-integrated with Daniels' and Bostridge's voices for Canticle IV, showing the same commanding technique and a fully attuned sense of style.


Although these are tough pieces for singers and demand focused attention from listeners, the musical dividends are abundant, especially in performances as well-prepared and artful as these. And that also includes the superior work of pianist Julius Drake, whose partnering of these singers shows a consummate mastery of both keyboard and of the uniquely demanding accompanist's art. Since they were written over a period of 30 years, listeners also will find the Canticles fascinating for their innumerable stylistic and thematic references to other Britten compositions, from the famous Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings, to operas such as Billy Budd or the cantata Rejoice in the Lamb.


The disc is filled out with seven of Britten's delightfully inventive folksong arrangements, with Maltman singing The Plough Boy, The Salley Gardens, and The foggy, foggy dew, Daniels taking There's none to soothe and O Waly, Waly, and Bostridge finishing with The Ash Grove and Greensleeves. Of course, every true Britten fan will be well-acquainted with Pears' and Britten's own recordings of the majority of these songs (Decca, BBC), and you can't help but hear the influence of Pears' distinctive inflections, fluid legato, and high-centered tone in Bostridge's (or Maltman's or Langridge's) performances. But that's not a bad thing at all--only Daniels seems slightly (and strangely) uncomfortable and just a bit square in his two songs. The sound is ideal, and the notes are well-written and informative, completing an essential package for all Britten enthusiasts and lovers of vocal music.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Canticle I, Op. 40 "My beloved is mine" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Ian Bostridge (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 7 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: English 
2. Canticle II, Op. 51 "Abraham and Isaac" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  David Daniels (Countertenor), Ian Bostridge (Tenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 16 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
3. Canticle III, Op. 55 "Still Falls the Rain" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Ian Bostridge (Tenor), Timothy Brown (French Horn), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 11 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: English 
4. Canticle IV, Op. 86 "The Journey of the Magi" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julius Drake (Piano), David Daniels (Countertenor), Ian Bostridge (Tenor),
Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 12 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: English 
5. Canticle V, Op. 89 "The Death of St Narcissus" by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Ian Bostridge (Tenor), Aline Brewer (Harp)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 7 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: English 
6. Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 1, The plough boy by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Christopher Maltman (Baritone), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
7. Folksongs (7), Volume 1: no 1, Salley Gardens by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Christopher Maltman (Baritone), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
8. Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 5, Foggy, Foggy Dew by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julius Drake (Piano), Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: English 
9. Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 2, There's none to soothe by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julius Drake (Piano), David Daniels (Countertenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
10. Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 6, O waly, waly by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  David Daniels (Countertenor), Julius Drake (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 09/2001 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
11. Folksongs (7), Volume 1: no 6, Ash Grove by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Julius Drake (Piano), Ian Bostridge (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; England 
Date of Recording: 10/17/2002 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
12. Greensleeves by Traditional
Performer:  Julius Drake (Piano), Ian Bostridge (Tenor)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Date of Recording: 10/17/2002 
Venue:  Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranged: Benjamin Britten (?1941) 

Sound Samples

Canticle I: My beloved is mine Op. 40
Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac Op. 51
Canticle III: Still falls the rain Op. 55
Canticle IV: Journey of the Magi Op. 86
Canticle V: The Death of Saint Narcissus Op. 89
Folk Song Arrangements: The plough boy
Folksong Arrangements: The Salley Gardens
Folk Song Arrangements: The foggy, foggy dew
Folk Song Arrangements: There's none to soothe
Folk Song Arrangements: O waly, waly
Folk Song Arrangements: The ash grove
Folk Song Arrangements: Greensleves

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