Author Topic: Benjamin Britten  (Read 97107 times)

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Offline absolutelybaching

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #600 on: June 23, 2021, 07:29:50 AM »
Taken in a few concerts at Snape Maltings, PD. The most memorable being the Amadeus and Borodin String Quartets.

An annual music festival is held in Aldeburgh itself. I recall a few years ago I purchased tickets for a concert that particularly appealed featuring the Janacek quartets. The concerts usually take place in a hall but as this was up for refurbishment the concerts were held at Aldeburgh church instead. Thought nothing of it until I took my place at the pew directly behind a dirty great concrete pillar! Barely able to see the musicians.   :(

I purchased a LP of Bach cello suites by André Navarra at the old chapel and sold it for a hefty profit on eBay. In the village there is also a duck pond and a memorial with a list of names of inhabitants who perished in WW1.

Don't forget the Moot Hall! A lovely Elizabethan building that's been the home of the town council for 400 years or so. Contains some lovely memorabilia from Britten as freeman of the town and so on. Also happens to be the location where the opening of Peter Grimes is meant to take place. And the graveyard behind the church you went to, of course, contains the graves of Britten, Pears, Imogen Holst and Joan Cross (the very first Ellen Orford ...and also the first Elizabeth I in Gloriana, the first Female Chorus in Rape of Lucretia, the first Lady Billows in Albert Herring and the first Mrs Grose in the Turn of the Screw. Phew!). The church itself contains a glorious triptych stained glass window by John Piper, depicting the three church parables, and a monument to George Crabbe -who was born in Aldeburgh and whose poem 'The Borough' was the inspiration behind Peter Grimes... it's quite a convoluted set of interconnectedness down there! I love the place. Shame it takes ages to get to it from pretty much anywhere (except maybe Saxmundham!)

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #601 on: June 23, 2021, 08:05:10 AM »
Taken in a few concerts at Snape Maltings, PD. The most memorable being the Amadeus and Borodin String Quartets.

An annual music festival is held in Aldeburgh itself. I recall a few years ago I purchased tickets for a concert that particularly appealed featuring the Janacek quartets. The concerts usually take place in a hall but as this was up for refurbishment the concerts were held at Aldeburgh church instead. Thought nothing of it until I took my place at the pew directly behind a dirty great concrete pillar! Barely able to see the musicians.   :(

I purchased a LP of Bach cello suites by André Navarra at the old chapel and sold it for a hefty profit on eBay. In the village there is also a duck pond and a memorial with a list of names of inhabitants who perished in WW1.
Great to hear that you've made it to some concerts at SM!  And lousy luck re watching the musicians perform the Janacek quartets!  That stinks!  Sounds like it was assigned seating and you drew the short straw?  Or others in the area knew not to purchase those seats?

Well done you on finding a gem at the record store!  Not surprising though knowing you and your knowledge!

I took a little online look at that hotel and pictures of local areas...very pretty.  Think that there is also a local wildlife area/refuge not too far away too?

Speaking of wildlife, I've been busy trying to keep up with what the red-tailed hawks have been up to at Cornell.  Lots of excitement there yesterday:  the oldest one fledged (and successfully came back around dinnertime); the middle one was plucked out of the nest (platform really) by a vet, a volunteer and a heavy machine operator there (they had to use a cherry picker and go up over 70 feet!)--he or she's health had gotten noticeably worse lately--and is now off at a wildlife rehab facility; the youngest, well he/she keeps on wandering out onto the fledge ledge but no go so far.  I provided some links to the news/video on the bird thread if you're interested.

PD

Offline Irons

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #602 on: June 23, 2021, 10:46:03 PM »
Don't forget the Moot Hall! A lovely Elizabethan building that's been the home of the town council for 400 years or so. Contains some lovely memorabilia from Britten as freeman of the town and so on. Also happens to be the location where the opening of Peter Grimes is meant to take place. And the graveyard behind the church you went to, of course, contains the graves of Britten, Pears, Imogen Holst and Joan Cross (the very first Ellen Orford ...and also the first Elizabeth I in Gloriana, the first Female Chorus in Rape of Lucretia, the first Lady Billows in Albert Herring and the first Mrs Grose in the Turn of the Screw. Phew!). The church itself contains a glorious triptych stained glass window by John Piper, depicting the three church parables, and a monument to George Crabbe -who was born in Aldeburgh and whose poem 'The Borough' was the inspiration behind Peter Grimes... it's quite a convoluted set of interconnectedness down there! I love the place. Shame it takes ages to get to it from pretty much anywhere (except maybe Saxmundham!)

Moot Hall has never been open to the public when I visit but it is the most important landmark of the town.



I have visited The Red House, home to Britten and Pears. Not mind blowing, but of interest of fans of the composer. I was struck how chintzy the decor.

I smiled at your last sentence and know full well your point. I'm the opposite, as when I turn off the A12 my destination can be only one place, Aldeburgh. I love the place.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Irons

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #603 on: June 23, 2021, 11:03:41 PM »
Great to hear that you've made it to some concerts at SM!  And lousy luck re watching the musicians perform the Janacek quartets!  That stinks!  Sounds like it was assigned seating and you drew the short straw?  Or others in the area knew not to purchase those seats?

Well done you on finding a gem at the record store!  Not surprising though knowing you and your knowledge!

I took a little online look at that hotel and pictures of local areas...very pretty.  Think that there is also a local wildlife area/refuge not too far away too?

Speaking of wildlife, I've been busy trying to keep up with what the red-tailed hawks have been up to at Cornell.  Lots of excitement there yesterday:  the oldest one fledged (and successfully came back around dinnertime); the middle one was plucked out of the nest (platform really) by a vet, a volunteer and a heavy machine operator there (they had to use a cherry picker and go up over 70 feet!)--he or she's health had gotten noticeably worse lately--and is now off at a wildlife rehab facility; the youngest, well he/she keeps on wandering out onto the fledge ledge but no go so far.  I provided some links to the news/video on the bird thread if you're interested.

PD

Not so much knowledge but more perseverance, PD. But thanks for saying.

 A wild and wonderful walk along the beach from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness. We are booked up in August, I will take some pics and post on favourite walks thread.

I will check out the link on the bird thread you posted this afternoon.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline absolutelybaching

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #604 on: June 23, 2021, 11:48:44 PM »
Moot Hall has never been open to the public when I visit but it is the most important landmark of the town.



I have visited The Red House, home to Britten and Pears. Not mind blowing, but of interest of fans of the composer. I was struck how chintzy the decor.

Yeah, it is incredibly chintzy now, but it's not how I recall it in the 1980s. When they were opening it to the public, they made a specific effort to put it back to be the way it was in the mid/late 1960s or so. I believe (but cannot speak from personal experience!) that chintz was "in" in those days.  ;)

The thing that took my breath away for a second or two was that Britten's bed sheets all had name labels, like you had sewn into your school uniform at one time. I believe all his shirts hanging in the wardrobe were similarly labelled. I assume they didn't own a washing machine (and Mrs. Hudson refused to chip in!) and always sent things off to the laundry. I guess it makes sense, of a kind.

On my last visit, having noticed the newly constructed large library/research area, I asked the curator what they had done with all the dogs. She looked blankly at me, and I said, well: Britten and Pears had buried quite a few dachsunds in their time: where were the graves now (as I'd seen them on my 1980s visit). Visibly flustered, she waved hands and said, Oh, they wouldn't have existed by the time the construction started. Decomposition, etc. Yeah, right. They built over the dogs!!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 09:58:44 AM by absolutelybaching »

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #605 on: June 24, 2021, 05:01:41 AM »
Don't forget the Moot Hall! A lovely Elizabethan building that's been the home of the town council for 400 years or so. Contains some lovely memorabilia from Britten as freeman of the town and so on. Also happens to be the location where the opening of Peter Grimes is meant to take place. And the graveyard behind the church you went to, of course, contains the graves of Britten, Pears, Imogen Holst and Joan Cross (the very first Ellen Orford ...and also the first Elizabeth I in Gloriana, the first Female Chorus in Rape of Lucretia, the first Lady Billows in Albert Herring and the first Mrs Grose in the Turn of the Screw. Phew!). The church itself contains a glorious triptych stained glass window by John Piper, depicting the three church parables, and a monument to George Crabbe -who was born in Aldeburgh and whose poem 'The Borough' was the inspiration behind Peter Grimes... it's quite a convoluted set of interconnectedness down there! I love the place. Shame it takes ages to get to it from pretty much anywhere (except maybe Saxmundham!)

Yeah, it is incredibly chintzy now, but it's now how I recall it in the 1980s. When they were opening it to the public, they made a specific effort to put it back to be the way it was in the mid/late 1960s or so. I believe (but cannot speak from personal experience!) that chintz was "in" in those days.  ;)

The thing that took my breath away for a second or two was that Britten's bed sheets all had name labels, like you had sewn into your school uniform at one time. I believe all his shirts hanging in the wardrobe were similarly labelled. I assume they didn't own a washing machine (and Mrs. Hudson refused to chip in!) and always sent things off to the laundry. I guess it makes sense, of a kind.

On my last visit, having noticed the newly constructed large library/research area, I asked the curator what they had done with all the dogs. She looked blankly at me, and I said, well: Britten and Pears had buried quite a few dachsunds in their time: where were the graves now (as I'd seen them on my 1980s visit). Visibly flustered, she waved hands and said, Oh, they wouldn't have existed by the time the construction started. Decomposition, etc. Yeah, right. They built over the dogs!!

Interesting facts about the town, singers, etc.!

Poor dogs!  Well, hopefully now they are happily reunited with their former owners.

PD

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #606 on: June 24, 2021, 05:03:15 AM »
Not so much knowledge but more perseverance, PD. But thanks for saying.

 A wild and wonderful walk along the beach from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness. We are booked up in August, I will take some pics and post on favourite walks thread.

I will check out the link on the bird thread you posted this afternoon.
Looking forward to seeing them.  Hope that you have a wonderful visit...and a nice side trip to the record and book shop.  ;)

PD

Offline VonStupp

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #607 on: November 21, 2021, 08:24:16 AM »
I recently spent a few weeks with Britten's non-orchestrated choral music.

I feel everyone should use Britten himself as a solid start to any of his music, as he was as fine a conductor as a composer. But the UK traditions of choral music have never been shared by my west-of-the-Atlantic sensibilities, even if that is how Britten heard his music. Much of his choral music was written with boy trebles in mind, but it is a style I have never warmed to, nor some of the older recording from Guest, Malcolm, and Halsey. So I recently sought out Spicer on Chandos, whose Finzi Singers uses mixed adult singers. Spicer blends his alto section with female and male altos together, another British tradition not seen in the US too often, especially in mixed choir settings, but I love that British chamber choirs are so characterful.

I like that The Finzi Singers are freer with their vibrato, although judiciously light most of the time, and again a contrast to cathedral choristers towards my personal preferences. Paul Spicer is strong in his scholarship of Britten and it is apparent throughout, although I would have liked to hear Britten's rarer part-songs. The oft-used soprano soloist Carys Lane was the highlight of all three volumes.

I found Volume 1 the strongest (his 4 hymns, Gloriana, A.M.D.G, and Rejoice in the Lamb), with Spicer's leading of Hymn to St. Cecilia perhaps rising towards the top for me. The liturgical music of Volume 2 was less enthralling for me, but I am also less familiar with that music. I did very much like the 'nordic' pronunciations used in A Ceremony of Carols, as it really set their performance apart from the scads of recordings available. The Finzi Singers heavier vibrato in Volume 3's secular music was apparent, and not always welcome, but Advance Democracy was a hoot, and A Boy Was Born was much more engaging to my ears than when I heard it last from Polyphony on Hyperion .

All in all, a strong set of Britten's choral music, although, any introduction should be Britten himself, as that was his intended sound world. This Chandos recording just pushed the button of my preferences in choral sounds. The programming is almost identical to The Sixteen with Harry Christophers.

   
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #608 on: November 21, 2021, 08:27:58 AM »
Recent listening:  his "Suite for Cello No. 1" with Matt Haimovitz (see current listening thread).  Enjoyed it.   :) Been quite a while since I had visited it.

PD

Offline Irons

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #609 on: November 22, 2021, 12:51:28 AM »
I recently spent a few weeks with Britten's non-orchestrated choral music.

I feel everyone should use Britten himself as a solid start to any of his music, as he was as fine a conductor as a composer. But the UK traditions of choral music have never been shared by my west-of-the-Atlantic sensibilities, even if that is how Britten heard his music. Much of his choral music was written with boy trebles in mind, but it is a style I have never warmed to, nor some of the older recording from Guest, Malcolm, and Halsey. So I recently sought out Spicer on Chandos, whose Finzi Singers uses mixed adult singers. Spicer blends his alto section with female and male altos together, another British tradition not seen in the US too often, especially in mixed choir settings, but I love that British chamber choirs are so characterful.

I like that The Finzi Singers are freer with their vibrato, although judiciously light most of the time, and again a contrast to cathedral choristers towards my personal preferences. Paul Spicer is strong in his scholarship of Britten and it is apparent throughout, although I would have liked to hear Britten's rarer part-songs. The oft-used soprano soloist Carys Lane was the highlight of all three volumes.

I found Volume 1 the strongest (his 4 hymns, Gloriana, A.M.D.G, and Rejoice in the Lamb), with Spicer's leading of Hymn to St. Cecilia perhaps rising towards the top for me. The liturgical music of Volume 2 was less enthralling for me, but I am also less familiar with that music. I did very much like the 'nordic' pronunciations used in A Ceremony of Carols, as it really set their performance apart from the scads of recordings available. The Finzi Singers heavier vibrato in Volume 3's secular music was apparent, and not always welcome, but Advance Democracy was a hoot, and A Boy Was Born was much more engaging to my ears than when I heard it last from Polyphony on Hyperion .

All in all, a strong set of Britten's choral music, although, any introduction should be Britten himself, as that was his intended sound world. This Chandos recording just pushed the button of my preferences in choral sounds. The programming is almost identical to The Sixteen with Harry Christophers.

   

Most interesting.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #610 on: November 22, 2021, 02:09:25 AM »
I recently spent a few weeks with Britten's non-orchestrated choral music.

I feel everyone should use Britten himself as a solid start to any of his music, as he was as fine a conductor as a composer. But the UK traditions of choral music have never been shared by my west-of-the-Atlantic sensibilities, even if that is how Britten heard his music. Much of his choral music was written with boy trebles in mind, but it is a style I have never warmed to, nor some of the older recording from Guest, Malcolm, and Halsey. So I recently sought out Spicer on Chandos, whose Finzi Singers uses mixed adult singers. Spicer blends his alto section with female and male altos together, another British tradition not seen in the US too often, especially in mixed choir settings, but I love that British chamber choirs are so characterful.

I like that The Finzi Singers are freer with their vibrato, although judiciously light most of the time, and again a contrast to cathedral choristers towards my personal preferences. Paul Spicer is strong in his scholarship of Britten and it is apparent throughout, although I would have liked to hear Britten's rarer part-songs. The oft-used soprano soloist Carys Lane was the highlight of all three volumes.

I found Volume 1 the strongest (his 4 hymns, Gloriana, A.M.D.G, and Rejoice in the Lamb), with Spicer's leading of Hymn to St. Cecilia perhaps rising towards the top for me. The liturgical music of Volume 2 was less enthralling for me, but I am also less familiar with that music. I did very much like the 'nordic' pronunciations used in A Ceremony of Carols, as it really set their performance apart from the scads of recordings available. The Finzi Singers heavier vibrato in Volume 3's secular music was apparent, and not always welcome, but Advance Democracy was a hoot, and A Boy Was Born was much more engaging to my ears than when I heard it last from Polyphony on Hyperion .

All in all, a strong set of Britten's choral music, although, any introduction should be Britten himself, as that was his intended sound world. This Chandos recording just pushed the button of my preferences in choral sounds. The programming is almost identical to The Sixteen with Harry Christophers.

   

Excellent post - thankyou for sharing your thoughts.  I must admit that there is that timbral "edge" to boy trebles' voices that is so unique that I am hard-wired to hearing it.  That said, for all kinds of reasons - social as well as musical I think it right and proper that within church/cathedral settings girls/women should be given an equal opportunity.  I do wonder looking into the future whether the "traditional" boys & men choir will become something of a historical quirk and that "performance practice" in the future will feature the recreation of such choirs.  But of course, once they are lost they will never happen again because you cannot train young children over night - the tradition and continuity is the key.  Possibly of all composers Britten is the one who most had that sound ingrained in his inner ear.  I must admit I'm not that keen generally with Spicer's Finzi Singers recordings.  I find them technically polished but just a tad emotionally detached - for a mixed voice alternative I personally prefer The Sixteen performances.

Offline VonStupp

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #611 on: November 22, 2021, 04:52:56 AM »
Excellent post - thankyou for sharing your thoughts.  I must admit that there is that timbral "edge" to boy trebles' voices that is so unique that I am hard-wired to hearing it.  That said, for all kinds of reasons - social as well as musical I think it right and proper that within church/cathedral settings girls/women should be given an equal opportunity.  I do wonder looking into the future whether the "traditional" boys & men choir will become something of a historical quirk and that "performance practice" in the future will feature the recreation of such choirs.  But of course, once they are lost they will never happen again because you cannot train young children over night - the tradition and continuity is the key.  Possibly of all composers Britten is the one who most had that sound ingrained in his inner ear.  I must admit I'm not that keen generally with Spicer's Finzi Singers recordings.  I find them technically polished but just a tad emotionally detached - for a mixed voice alternative I personally prefer The Sixteen performances.

And I found the 2nd volume of liturgical and sacred music wanting from them. I am wondering if I miss the cathedral-type sound for those specific works, since the Finzi Singers give 'secular'-sounding, concert hall presentations here. It is interesting the wide range of timbres a choir can give.

VS
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Offline VonStupp

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Re: Benjamin Britten
« Reply #612 on: November 22, 2021, 05:37:45 AM »
I must admit that there is that timbral "edge" to boy trebles' voices that is so unique that I am hard-wired to hearing it.  That said, for all kinds of reasons - social as well as musical I think it right and proper that within church/cathedral settings girls/women should be given an equal opportunity.  I do wonder looking into the future whether the "traditional" boys & men choir will become something of a historical quirk and that "performance practice" in the future will feature the recreation of such choirs.  But of course, once they are lost they will never happen again because you cannot train young children over night - the tradition and continuity is the key.

It is an interesting postulation of performance practice I hadn't thought of. In the US, there is (or was) a tiny, secular tradition of boy's choirs, not associated with the church. Children's choirs seem to be more popular, with multi-tiered training schools in some cases, but rarely does that extend past male voice changes.

VS
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”