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Double Concerto/Kremer,.. [Classical, Import, CD]

Benjamin Britten Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 39.56
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Product Details


1. Young Apollo, Op. 16: Moderato - Allegro molto
2. Double Concerto In B Minor: I. Allegro ma non troppo
3. Double Concerto In B Minor: II. Rhapsody. Poco lento
4. Double Concerto In B Minor: III. Allegro scherzando - Allegro non troppo
5. Two Portraits: No. 1 'David Layton' For String Orchetra - Poco presto
6. Two Portraits: No. 2 'E.B.B.' For Solo Viola And String Orchestra - Poco lento
7. Sinfonietta, Op. 1: I. Poco presto ed agitato
8. Sinfonietta, Op. 1: II. Variations. Andante lento
9. Sinfonietta, Op. 1: III. Tarantella. Presto vivace

Product Description

Amazon.ca

The young Benjamin Britten was profligate with scores--three of these pieces are unheard since his student days, yet hardly inferior to works of his maturity. The 1939 Young Apollo, his seven-minute fanfare for piano, string quartet and strings, is marginally the least obscure piece here: its inventive drive and vigour are clearly Britten and yet, like the other pieces here, in some sense the radical road not taken. The Double Concerto of 1932 for Violin and Viola announces itself with broody discords and moves rapidly into eloquent fiddling from the two soloists--Kremer and Bashmet respond well to this music and give it its full and considerable weight. The 1930 Portraits for string orchestra, the second featuring Bashmet again as soloist in a moody self-portrait, foreshadow much of what Britten was to do later with string orchestra. Nagano deserves congratulations for selecting this innovative programme and for the restraint needed in performing work so delicate and inventive; he finally breaks out into virtuosity in the finale of the small orchestra version of the Sinfonietta, making a case for its being quite as fine as the chamber version Britten acknowledged as his op.1. --Roz Kaveney

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great window into early Britten June 18 2004
Format:Audio CD
For admirers of Benjamin Britten's work, this recording will probably be seen as indispensable, given the rarity of the pieces. All are fascinating, not to mention engaging, and played with great spirit by the Hallé Orchestra with Kent Nagano at the helm.
My favorite is a work I had never heard before this recording, "Young Apollo" for piano and strings, seven minutes of gorgeous harmonies and catchy rhythms. Its sunny spirit is just beautifully handled by Nagano and the orchestra, and makes a really fine, attention-getting start to the recording.
The rest of the CD is terrific, ending with an impressively virtuosic performance of the "Sinfonietta," in its version for small orchestra. Erato's sound quality is lovely -- very warm and natural -- only adding to the pleasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Four Works of Youth Worth Obtaining Oct. 16 1999
Format:Audio CD
I was amazed, after I heard the piece, to learn that Britten had written the Double Concerto at the tender age of 18. This is a piece that could easily find its way into the standard repertoire. There's a lot of mature Britten here. The work is both immediately engaging and thought-provoking, like the best of his other concertos and string quartets. Obviously that must have been what attracted Bashmet and Kremer to the piece. These superstars are exactly the right prescription for a successful performance - 100% commitment and unparalleled musicianship. The other pieces are also engaging, of course: "Young Apollo" and "Two Portraits" are in that category of Britten where the composer goes out on a limb compositionally but doesn't cut off the branch behind him. Most Britten lovers already know the Sinfonietta, Op. 1. Here we have an alternative orchestration, rediscovered in the 1980's, in an excellent, balanced performance and recording. The Halle under Kent Nagano is superb. Do yourself a favor - get this CD!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Works of Youth Worth Obtaining Oct. 16 1999
By Eugene G. Barnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was amazed, after I heard the piece, to learn that Britten had written the Double Concerto at the tender age of 18. This is a piece that could easily find its way into the standard repertoire. There's a lot of mature Britten here. The work is both immediately engaging and thought-provoking, like the best of his other concertos and string quartets. Obviously that must have been what attracted Bashmet and Kremer to the piece. These superstars are exactly the right prescription for a successful performance - 100% commitment and unparalleled musicianship. The other pieces are also engaging, of course: "Young Apollo" and "Two Portraits" are in that category of Britten where the composer goes out on a limb compositionally but doesn't cut off the branch behind him. Most Britten lovers already know the Sinfonietta, Op. 1. Here we have an alternative orchestration, rediscovered in the 1980's, in an excellent, balanced performance and recording. The Halle under Kent Nagano is superb. Do yourself a favor - get this CD!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusually fine window into early Britten June 18 2004
By Bruce Hodges - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
For admirers of Benjamin Britten's work, this recording will probably be seen as indispensable, given the rarity of the pieces. All are engaging, and played with great spirit by the Halle Orchestra with Kent Nagano at the helm.
My favorite is a work I had never heard before this recording, "Young Apollo" for piano and strings. About seven minutes long, it is ripe with gorgeous harmonies, catchy rhythms, and its sunny spirit is just beautifully handled by Nagano and the orchestra. Needless to say, it makes a fine, attention-getting start to the recording.
The rest of the CD is terrific, ending with an impressively virtuosic performance of the "Sinfonietta," in its version for small orchestra. Erato's sound quality is lovely -- very warm and natural -- only adding to the pleasure.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Early Benjamin Britten Nov. 9 2007
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I happened to hear the last movement of the Double Concerto played on the radio and immediately wanted to hear the entire work. While not an expert on the music of Benjamin Britten, I could not place the Double Concerto in any time frame, and as it turned out it was a work that was not performed during the composer's lifetime.

This disc has two world premieres: the Double Concerto and Two Portraits. Two Portraits is the earliest work recorded here, from 1930, and was composed just after Britten entered the Royal College of Music. The portraits are of one of the composer's school friends and Britten himself. A third movement was contemplated but never written. The work is scored for string orchestra and is quite mature for a teenage composer. The Double Concerto was written in 1932 in conjunction with the Sinfonietta but was not fully orchestrated; it was possible to fully realize the score from Britten's detailed notation. The concerto was probably left as it was because of the difficulties Britten experienced with the student orchestra during the first performance of the Sinfonietta. It is an engaging concerto that sounds so typical of the mature Britten; the melodies are engaging and the orchestration confident and original.

The Sinfonietta is Britten's opus 1 and he was determined in the work to make a statement - an effort to say he had arrived. The piece was scored for 10 players but Britten added a second horn and made indications in the score for a full string orchestra, which is the version recorded here. Young Apollo was composed in 1939 on a commission from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and is scored for piano and orchestra. It is a sunny work and a perfect overture.

The performances are superb and well-recorded. It you have an interest in Britten's music you will want this CD.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly superb music, and mostly very good performances Nov. 7 2009
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disc is for the most part a big success, and gets off to an impressive start with a beautiful performance of the glittering, wonderful 7-minute Young Apollo for piano, string quartet and string orchestra - a mercurial, scintillatingly radiant work somewhat reminiscent of minimalism in its development of themes, which are repeated with subtle transformations rather than developed symphonically. The double concerto for violin, viola and orchestra dates from 1932, but was orchestrated by Colin Matthews based on Britten's own sketches. It is more conservative in idiom (Frank Bridge is a strong presence) and might not be Britten's most profound work, but it is still mightily impressive with a haunting Rhapsody and an effective final Tarantella, all skillfully written and superbly scored.

The Two Portraits is probably the weak link here (if anything is) with a romantically charged first movement (something of Alban Berg but far less adventurous) and a lyrical but slightly inconsequential second movement. The string orchestral version of the Sinfonietta is, however, very effective and imaginative.

But I have a couple of nitpicks about this release as well - the sound quality is a little cavernous and some details are inevitably lost. Otherwise it is mostly a success, with splendid solo playing. The orchestral contributions exhibit energy and spirit but sound a little thin at times, especially in the Sinfonietta which really needs more flair and power and stronger characterization. Still, this disc deserves a firm recommendation, regardless of the caveats.
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