Author Topic: Benjamin Britten  (Read 64052 times)

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Offline Iota

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #400 on: July 08, 2019, 12:25:03 AM »
All three Britten quartets are special and the 1st is extra-special.

As correct a statement as has ever strolled this earth, I think.


I love Britten's violin concerto [..] but even better, on the Czech Supraphon label of all places, Nora Grumlikova with Peter Maag conducting the Prague SO, the coupling being RVW Concerto Accademico.[/b]

Want to give a shout-out to Noseda's War Requiem, which is a spectacular modern version -- the best I have heard since Britten's original.

Interesting, will check those out.


In Suffolk on holiday this week. Today we did a six mile walk from Aldeburgh. Saw the shell memorial to Britten on the beach and then visited the very impressive 'Maltings' at Snape.

Is there any more symbiotic an example of music and place, than Britten and Aldeburgh I wonder? External and inner landscape almost as one at times it feels. Personally I find the connection a magical thing. A lovely thing to be doing, vandermolen, happy wanderings!

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #401 on: July 08, 2019, 06:19:50 AM »
Is there any more symbiotic an example of music and place, than Britten and Aldeburgh I wonder?

I would suggest Elgar and the Malvern Hills is pretty close......

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #402 on: July 08, 2019, 10:13:58 AM »
As correct a statement as has ever strolled this earth, I think.


Interesting, will check those out.


Is there any more symbiotic an example of music and place, than Britten and Aldeburgh I wonder? External and inner landscape almost as one at times it feels. Personally I find the connection a magical thing. A lovely thing to be doing, vandermolen, happy wanderings!
Thank you! Sadly we didn't have time to visit the graves of Britten, Pears and Imogen Holst (didn't realise she was there too) in the churchyard. I did, a while back, visit Gustav's impressive grave in Chichester Cathedral.
Here they are from an online photo. Imogen is behind Britten's grave on the far left:

« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 10:19:15 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Iota

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #403 on: July 10, 2019, 12:56:28 AM »
I would suggest Elgar and the Malvern Hills is pretty close......

Ah yes I'm sure you're right. Although there are one or two Elgar pieces I like very much, I don't have the same general connection with his music that I do with Britten's. This and knowing the music less well, means that connection doesn't quite strike me with the same force, although I'm sure it's equally strong for those more familiar with Elgar.


Thank you! Sadly we didn't have time to visit the graves of Britten, Pears and Imogen Holst (didn't realise she was there too) in the churchyard. I did, a while back, visit Gustav's impressive grave in Chichester Cathedral.
Here they are from an online photo. Imogen is behind Britten's grave on the far left:


I was very aware of Britten's death at the time because it was a major event in our school music teacher's life, which he shared with us. Later I remember playing for Pears, accompanying an opera singer auditioning for a part in about 1984/5, and thinking he looked very sad or cheesed off, it was hard to tell which, perhaps it was just our performance .. but seeing the date of his death on that gravestone makes me wonder if he was already ill in some way.

Anyway, whoever introduced those two did the music world a very great favour indeed.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #404 on: July 10, 2019, 06:12:00 AM »
Ah yes I'm sure you're right. Although there are one or two Elgar pieces I like very much, I don't have the same general connection with his music that I do with Britten's. This and knowing the music less well, means that connection doesn't quite strike me with the same force, although I'm sure it's equally strong for those more familiar with Elgar.


I was very aware of Britten's death at the time because it was a major event in our school music teacher's life, which he shared with us. Later I remember playing for Pears, accompanying an opera singer auditioning for a part in about 1984/5, and thinking he looked very sad or cheesed off, it was hard to tell which, perhaps it was just our performance .. but seeing the date of his death on that gravestone makes me wonder if he was already ill in some way.

Anyway, whoever introduced those two did the music world a very great favour indeed.
Interesting. I remember Briiten's death very well as I was a student in Exeter doing my teacher training certificate.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Moonfish

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #405 on: October 14, 2019, 02:06:42 PM »
I just happened to listen to a recital from the Decca Vocals box by Jennifer Vyvyan focusing mostly on Haydn and Mozart. However, as a bonus it also included scenes from Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" (scenes 7/8). Wow!  Somehow my mind went directly to Richard Strauss -  the darkness and the style of singing reminded me so much of RS apart from that there was an absence of the crystalline quality that I tend to hear in Strauss. Great singing!

Regardless, I'm a Britten neophyte so this was quite revelatory.  Is this music typically associated with Britten or did I just happen to stumble across a gem? I presume what I heard were excerpts from the recording below. Is this the landmark recording for "The Turn of the Screw"?




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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #406 on: October 14, 2019, 02:18:18 PM »
I just happened to listen to a recital from the Decca Vocals box by Jennifer Vyvyan focusing mostly on Haydn and Mozart. However, as a bonus it also included scenes from Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" (scenes 7/8). Wow!  Somehow my mind went directly to Richard Strauss -  the darkness and the style of singing reminded me so much of RS apart from that there was an absence of the crystalline quality that I tend to hear in Strauss. Great singing!

Regardless, I'm a Britten neophyte so this was quite revelatory.  Is this music typically associated with Britten or did I just happen to stumble across a gem? I presume what I heard were excerpts from the recording below. Is this the landmark recording for "The Turn of the Screw"?



I’m not a fan of that opera, but, yes, I’d say it’s a highly acclaimed opera from him. For me, Death in Venice was the best opera he wrote and it’s his last. It shows Britten in a quite different light, which can be said of a lot of his late works. If you haven’t heard, Phaedra, then please stop what you’re doing and give that piece a listen. I imagine that you’ll like it.

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #407 on: October 14, 2019, 07:38:53 PM »
Phaedra is a knockout!
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #408 on: October 14, 2019, 07:45:37 PM »
Phaedra is a knockout!

It sure is and is a part of those later works that I think so highly of.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #409 on: October 15, 2019, 12:15:01 AM »
I just happened to listen to a recital from the Decca Vocals box by Jennifer Vyvyan focusing mostly on Haydn and Mozart. However, as a bonus it also included scenes from Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" (scenes 7/8). Wow!  Somehow my mind went directly to Richard Strauss -  the darkness and the style of singing reminded me so much of RS apart from that there was an absence of the crystalline quality that I tend to hear in Strauss. Great singing!

Regardless, I'm a Britten neophyte so this was quite revelatory.  Is this music typically associated with Britten or did I just happen to stumble across a gem? I presume what I heard were excerpts from the recording below. Is this the landmark recording for "The Turn of the Screw"?



Moonfish - I meant to reply to your comment about Vyvyan on the other thread - but this will do!  Worth checking out her other recordings - she was very active as a performer for the likes of Bliss as well as Britten.  She's on the first performance of the former's "The Beatitudes" which was the forgotten(ish!) work given at the opening festival for Coventry Cathedral where the Britten Requiem made the big stir.  She also appears on an early recording of the Britten Spring Symphony I seem to remember.  A big powerful dramatic singer whose name is little known these days.

As a little aside - my violin teacher one of the players in the original performance of "Turn of the Screw" and always spoke highly of the work and indeed the whole experience.......

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #410 on: October 15, 2019, 12:33:32 AM »
I heard the Hymn to St Cecilia live last night.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline North Star

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #411 on: October 15, 2019, 01:07:29 AM »
I just happened to listen to a recital from the Decca Vocals box by Jennifer Vyvyan focusing mostly on Haydn and Mozart. However, as a bonus it also included scenes from Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" (scenes 7/8). Wow!  Somehow my mind went directly to Richard Strauss -  the darkness and the style of singing reminded me so much of RS apart from that there was an absence of the crystalline quality that I tend to hear in Strauss. Great singing!

Regardless, I'm a Britten neophyte so this was quite revelatory.  Is this music typically associated with Britten or did I just happen to stumble across a gem? I presume what I heard were excerpts from the recording below. Is this the landmark recording for "The Turn of the Screw"?


Daniel Harding's recording was my introduction to the work, and I recall thinking very highly of it. I can't offer any comparison with the Britten recording, though, as I've not heard either in ages. The Turn of the Screw is certainly in some ways a unique work for Britten regarding the structure and musical language too perhaps - and it is a gem for sure, but his other operas are also definitely worth hearing, from Peter Grimes to Death in Venice. And of course there are lots of other great works by him, such as Phaedra mentioned by John.
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Offline pjme

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #412 on: October 15, 2019, 01:23:06 AM »
Moonfish - I meant to reply to your comment about Vyvyan on the other thread - but this will do!  Worth checking out her other recordings - she was very active as a performer for the likes of Bliss as well as Britten.  She's on the first performance of the former's "The Beatitudes" which was the forgotten(ish!) work given at the opening festival for Coventry Cathedral where the Britten Requiem made the big stir.  She also appears on an early recording of the Britten Spring Symphony I seem to remember.  A big powerful dramatic singer whose name is little known these days.

Jennifer Vyvyan is indeed the soprano soloist in Britten's own recording of the Spring Symphony. She has a wonderful voice : clear and strong and capable of the most gorgeous pianissimi.
I cherish her performance in Gordon Crosse's Changes. Check out nrs. 13 & 14!!!!

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/9EFlhWuezHo" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/9EFlhWuezHo</a>

The recital disc is very good aswell.


see also: http://jennifervyvyan.org/pages/view/id/17