It is often said that Johannes
Brahms (1833-1897) came late to the symphony, yet he wrestled with his
first symphony from as early as 1862, taking some fourteen years to bring it to
fruition in 1876. Thereafter three more symphonies came far more quickly, the
second in 1877, the third in 1883 and the fourth in 1884/85.
Following on from his acclaimed Beethoven symphony cycle, Riccardo
Chaillywww.riccardochailly.comand the Gewandhausorchester, Leipzigwww.gewandhaus.dehave turned their attention to Brahms. Deccawww.deccaclassics.com/gbhave just released a handsome new set of
the Brahms symphonies together with the Tragic Overture, Haydn Variations and
Academic Festival Overture. Also included are 9 Liebeslieder-Walzer, 3 Hungarian
Dances, two Intermezzo from his Opp.116 and 117, as well as the revised opening
to the fourth symphony and the first performance version of the Andante of the
first symphony making the three well filled discs something of a Brahms feast.
478 5344 - 3CD
Brahms’ Symphony No.1
in C minor, Op. 68 was first performed in Karlsruhe on 4th November,
1876 by the Großherzogliche Hofkapelle conducted by Otto Dessoff.
Chailly makes a purposeful start in the opening of the Un poco Sostenuto – Allegro with playing
that is muscular, taut and flexible. He creates so much tension in the music.
There is also great clarity, not only because of the fine recording, but from
the way Chailly and the orchestra reveal the instrumental detail. It is
remarkable the way he pushes the music forward yet allows the orchestration to
be clearly revealed. His flexibility of tempi, moving from muscular playing to tender
moments is superb.
A wonderful Andante
Sostenuto, beautifully judged, allows the music to ebb and flow so
naturally. The Gewandhausorchester are on glorious form producing some lovely
sounds, with little brass details sounding through and some fine woodwind
passages. There is a wonderfully fleet footed Un poco Allegretto e grazioso again with some lovely woodwind
contributions. Brahms’ cross rhythms are so well handled and, at times, in this
movement there is an enveloping mellowness to the Gewandhausorchester’s playing
that is so appealing.
Well contained passion opens the Adagio – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio, with wonderfully taut
playing before the Allegro arrives. There are some lovely, long drawn horn
phrases with Chailly getting it so right as he draws the music along. The more moderately
paced passages aren’t allowed to drag and soon Chailly whips the music up as it
leads to the final climax before a terrific coda.
Of all the symphonies of Brahms, this is the one that
underwent the most revision after that first performance. The major revisions
took place just before publishing in 1877 when the entire second movement was
restructured. Brahms destroyed the score and orchestral parts of the original
version, however, an extra set of string parts held in the Gesellschaft der
Musikfreunde, Viennawww.a-wgm.comhas enabled a reconstruction of the original
Andante second movement which is included on Disc 3 of this set. Most listeners
will soon notice the differences in this fascinating supplement to the first
Disc 1 continues with
Brahms’ Symphony No.3 in F major, Op.90 where Chailly again hits the
perfect tempo for the opening of the Allegro
con brio – Un poco Sostenuto. As the music quietens he extracts such lovely,
detailed playing from the Gewandhausorchester with musical phrases that are so
beautifully turned. There are terrifically powerful string sounds and some great
The winds of the Gewandhausorchester play superbly in the
opening of the Andante as do the
strings, so sonorous. As the music progresses there is a lovely freedom to
their playing, taut yet free and a lovely glowing coda. In the Poco allegretto the strings of the Gewandhausorchester
again show their terrific sonority with Chailly pointing up the details in the
wind section. The Allegro has a
terrific opening, full of anticipation before the orchestra suddenly erupts, truly
joyful and triumphant. The magical coda is finely done.
The second disc in this set brings Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.73 with rich flowing sounds from the Gewandhausorchester
before the Allegro proper arrives.
There are lovely pointed woodwind passages and more taut playing from this fine
orchestra. The woodwind decoration is beautifully done and there are some
lovely glowing passages. Chailly builds to some fine climaxes. It is wonderful
how he keeps such a momentum whilst not glossing over the detail and poetry of the
What Chailly brings to what must be one of Brahms’ finest
Adagios, is the ability to slowly allow the music to feel its way, creating a
feeling of great anticipation. He can really whip up a storm, as in the central
section, but can quickly move from taut drama to reflection so naturally. There
are some magical moments in this movement and a great climax before the peaceful
There is a lovely, almost relaxed, Allegretto grazioso (Quasi Andantino) with a rhythmic litheness is
so appealing. Chailly has got Brahms’ precise tempo marking just right. Suddenly
the Presto ma non assai arrives with
superb articulation and precision, given a somewhat Mendelssohnian feel. The
final movement brings a real Allegro con
spirito. Chailly allows the quieter passages just enough room to breathe
without losing momentum - quite wonderful. He also makes the most of Brahms’
string sonorities here, whilst keeping a light touch, as the music surges
forward. And what a glorious coda – triumphant.
The Allegro non troppoof the Symphony No.4 in E minor, Op.98 opens with some lovely flowing
string playing, slowly increasing in intensity with fine shaping of phrases.
The quieter interludes help build the expectation, always purposeful, never flagging.
There are so many little orchestral details that show through.
What a terrific Andante
moderato there is, full of lovely sonorities in the gentle melody and some
great, incisive playing at the central climax after which Chailly paces the
slow down so well with another glowing coda. The Allegro giocoso shows the terrific ensemble from the Gewandhausorchester
in this joyful and ebullient performance, full of energy, finely controlled.
How Chailly handles the tempi changes in the Allegro energico e passionato is remarkable,
his control is wonderful, with the Gewandhausorchester playing with the
flexibility and tautness of a small ensemble. Chailly really lets rip in this
finale with superb playing, full of drama.
After completing the fourth symphony, Brahms added four bars
of music as a prefix to the first movement Allegro, a typically Brahmsian wind
chord that falls away into the opening music that we all know. Chailly and the Gewandhausorchesteropen thisextract by playing the last few bars of the first movement
followed by the alternative opening thus giving us a chance to compare the
cadence that ends the movement that was reflected in the revised opening. Brahms
was obviously not convinced about this new opening as it did not appear in the
It would be easy, after such wonderful performances of the
symphonies, to overlook the works contained on the third disc of this set. As
well as the original first performance version of the Andante to the first
symphony there is a fine Tragic Overture,
Op.81, full of drama, taut energy
and fine detail and atmosphere, arguably one of the finest on disc; and a
finely wrought Academic Festival
Overture, Op. 80, to which Chailly brings real verve and some lovely brass
Two worthwhile shorter pieces, beautifully played, are
included, the Intermezzo, Op. 116 No.4 (Adagio)with a lovely Brahmsian lilt and a warmly
glowing account of the Intermezzo,
Op.117 No.1 (Andante) both orchestrated by Paul Klengel (1854-1935)
Brahms’ Variations of
a Theme of Joseph Haydn, op.56a (Variations on St. Antoni Chorale) highlightChailly’s ability to move so naturally
from one tempo to another as he does between the variations of this work. The Gewandhausorchester
follow every nuance and turn with Chailly breathing life into the music.
There is a lovely interlude with eight of the Op.52 and one of the Op.65 Liebeslieder-Walzer in Brahms’
own orchestration, nicely shaped, some full of gentle charm and others, at times,
bringing a darker depth as well as some terrific energy. It is Brahms’ own
orchestration of three of his Hungarian
Dances that conclude this magnificent set, superbly played, taut and full
This, in my view, is the finest Brahms symphony cycle to
arrive for many years and must become a top recommendation. This generously
filled set is superbly recorded in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig.
The three discs are contained in a bound CD size book with
excellent booklet notes and illustrations that include photographs of the
autograph full score of the first page of the fourth symphony and the last page
of the first movement of that work, showing the revised opening.
It was the Cornish landscape that truly inspired the 21 year
old George Lloyd’s first opera Iernin.
Not staged since its première in 1934 and its London run in 1935, George
Lloyd's Iernin, based on a Celtic
legend inspired by the Nine Maidens stone circle near Penzance, tells the story
of a maiden turned to stone by puritanical priests, only to reawaken hundreds
of years later and ensnare the heart of a betrothed Cornish nobleman. This is
set against the backdrop of a soon to be occupied Cornwall and the struggle of
its leader and people to retain their independence from the Saxon overlords
At the time the Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph reported
‘Scenes of great dramatic intensity and moments of lyricism are embodied in the
Cornish grand opera, Iernin which was produced for the first time at the
Pavilion, Penzance on Monday night.’ The Times music critic, Frank Howes, was
present at the first performance and it was his glowing review that enabled it
to be transferred to the Lyceum, London where it achieved great success.
The Surrey Opera
production has had three performances in Croydon before transferring to St.
John’s Hall, Penzance, Cornwall for two more performances on 1st and
2nd November 2013, effectively taking the opera home.
Jonathan Butcherwww.operatalent.com/Safe/People/JonathanButcher59975833.asp?persona=98conducted the chorus and orchestra of
Surrey Opera together with a strong cast consisting of Catherine Rogers
(Iernin), Edward Hughes (Gerent), Felicity Buckland (Cunaide), Håkan Vramsmo
(Edyrn), James Harrison (Bedwyr), Jon Openshaw (Priest), James Schouten
(huntsman), Robert Trainer (Saxon thane), Tim Baldwin (old man) and Georgina
Perry (little girl).
Producer, Alexander Hargreaveswww.stagejobspro.com/uk/view.php?uid=468773, has seen in the libretto of this opera more than simply a love story but selflessness
and love of an ideal, drawing on connections with the composer’s own Second
World War experiences. Certainly if one reads the libretto in this context one
can see that the librettist, the composer’s father, William Lloyd, must surely
have had his own First World War experiences in mind.
Even though the composer may not have had twentieth century
dress in mind for his opera set in the 10th century, he would, I
know, have approved of the simple but effective stage sets. In Catherine
Rogers this production had a first rate Iernin, an extremely taxing role to
which she brought her fine voice.
Alexander Hargreaves’ direction provided many fine moments,
though, when the huntsmen appear on stage, it was perhaps rather too busy with
the chorus too centre stage. I was also not entirely convinced by the modern
dress version of the Saxon Thane when he appears early in Act 2. However, these
were small matters in this fine production. The orchestra and chorus were first
rate in the huntsman scene with a fine horn solo from the principal horn.
There were many musical highlights including a wonderful
first Act duet from Edward Hughes (Gerent) and Håkan Vramsmo (Edyrn) as well as
Gerent’s following aria ‘Long years ago’.
Both these singers showed fine voices as well as great dramatic presence.
The spoken dialogue in Act 2, Scene 1 was particularly effective
with Tim Baldwin as the old man, holding this section together brilliantly. In
Scene 2 Jon Openshaw made a fine priest, full of presence and stature, also
having to sing offstage for an indisposed James Harrison (Bedwyr) who,
nevertheless acted his role on stage.
Catherine Rogers brought tremendous strength to her final
aria ‘Hear me, thou Shining Power’, finely
building the drama in a piece that is by turns affectingly beautiful and dramatic.
How she sustained the power and sensitivity was remarkable in this taxing aria.
In the transition to the orchestral storm sequence there was some very fine
Act 3 brought a terrific duet from Catherine Rogers and Edward
Hughes with some more fine playing from the orchestra as well as the trio from Felicity
Buckland (Cunaide), Edward Hughes (Gerent) and Catherine Rogers (Iernin), so
Felicity Buckland was a fine Cunaide particularly in the Act
2 ‘What if I have their love’ one of the
great arias that she has in this opera and, perhaps the greatest aria in the
whole work when, towards the end of the final Act, she sings ‘The spell is passed.’ Into this final
scene Director, Alexander Hargreaves, brings soldiers in twentieth century
uniforms. Iernin, now returned to her form as a stone, is finally revealed as a
war memorial and Gerent as an injured soldier. Whilst not what the composer
would have expected, Cunaide had already prepared us for this moment when, in
her preceding aria she sang ‘Who
willingly gave their breath that you and yours might be free’. I found this
scene almost unbearably poignant.
In some ways this production risked the usual controversy
over the use of modern dress yet the effect when the end of the final Act
arrived surely justified this view. There can be no doubt in all other respects
that this production was musically a triumph.
If you are able to get to Penzance for the final two performances
you will be assured of a memorable evening.
Philip Sawyershttp://philipsawyers.co.ukwas born in London in 1951 and attended Dartington College of Arts in Devon,
studying violin with Colin Sauer and composition with Helen Glatz, herself a
pupil of Vaughan Williams and Bartok. He later studied at the Guildhall School
of Music in London with Joan Spencer and Max Rostal (violin), and received compositional
guidance from Buxton Orr, Patric Standford and Edmund Rubbra.
In 1973, Sawyers joined the Royal Opera House Orchestra,
Covent Garden, whilst also freelancing with other orchestras and chamber groups
including the London Symphony Orchestra, the English National Opera Orchestra
and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He also undertook teaching and coaching, including
violin coach for the Kent County Youth Orchestra.
In 1997, he left the ROH, and undertook a year of
postgraduate study at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Alongside
composing, Sawyers now works as a freelance violinist, teacher, adjudicator and
examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
His compositions include Quintet
for Clarinet and String Quartet (1969), Four
Poems for Flute and String Orchestra (1971), Symphonic Music for Strings and Brass (1972), Three Shropshire Songs (2006) and, more recently an Octet, an orchestral work Gale of Life, two symphonies and a Concertante for Violin, Piano, and String
Orchestra. Nimbus Alliancewww.wyastone.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=sawyershave already recorded the Symphonic Music for Strings and Brass, Gale of Life and the Symphony No.1 released in 2010 (NI6129)
Now Nimbus Allliance www.wyastone.co.ukhave released Sawyers’ two violin sonatas coupled with Elgar’s late Violin
Sonata all performed by the Steinberg Duo www.steinbergduo.comwith Louisa Stonehill (violin) and
Nicholas Burns (piano).
Violin Sonata No.1 (1969) is an early work that nevertheless shows
considerable compositional skills. The Allegro
opens with what appears to be a gentle melody but almost immediately turns into
a passionate theme with some fine playing from Louisa Stonehill as she weaves a
lovely theme around the piano, at times quiet and melancholy, them stridently
passionate in this fine movement, so tonally free yet melodic.
There is a haunting feel to the Andante with its dark melody occasionally rising to a stormier
nature. One can hear in this movement the dark textures that show that it had
its roots in a work for viola. The violin develops an increasingly passionate line
against the piano until quietening as it runs straight into the energetic Allegro scherzando. Occasional quiet
passages with pizzicato violin give way to the ongoing energetic nature of this
attractive movement, brilliantly played by both these artists.
This was an exceptionally fine achievement for the 18 year
old composer and which sits well against the other works on this disc.
Dating from some forty two years after the first sonata and
written for the Steinberg Duo, Philip
Sawyer’s Violin Sonata No.2 (2011) has a remarkably similar language, but
the Allegro that opens this mature
work has less of an overtly emotional feel, full of life and energy. There are
some reflective passages, but this movement has predominantly more certainty,
forcing ahead confidently. Again this duo provides some really fine playing, full
of flair, with fine ensemble and colouring of textures. As the music suddenly
recovers from a quiet pause, it drives forward to the conclusion.
Emotion is certainly not lacking in the beautiful Andante which has a wistful melody that
permeates the whole movement, with some lovely writing for the violin and
piano, richly brought out in this performance. True to Sawyers’ musical language,
the movement occasionally rises from wistful to passionate before returning to
its origins. Louisa Stonehill provides some fine textures, gently coaxing
subtle colours from her instrument. Equally fine is the contribution from
Nicholas Burns who finds so much in the quiet moments.
A little rising motif opens the Allegro finale that casts aside the melancholy of the Andante. There are many subtleties,
nevertheless, in this movement, beautifully played by the duo. In some of the
faster passages Sawyer presents his players with some technical challenges,
resulting in some terrific playing. The theme from the Andante returns before the coda.
For all its use of twelve tone writing, this work does not
sound at all lacking in melody, let alone structural cohesion, showing just how
fine and entrancing such a work can be.
Both of Philip Sawyers’ Sonatas sit well with Elgar’s autumnal work, the Violin Sonata in E minor, Op.82 (1918). The
Steinberg Duo throw themselves into the Allegro
with real gusto and terrific use of rubato. As the music slows there is a lovely
broadening out, so well highlighted by these players. It is their ability to
show the intense passion and feeling set against quieter, subtler nuances that
mark out this performance, revealing so many new facets to the Elgar. What fine
playing there is as the music leads to the movement’s conclusion.
Such perfectly turned inflections in the Romance: Andante show a wistfully playful
nature I hadn’t really heard in this work before. The Steinberg Duo, at times, have
the listener teetering on the edge of melancholy and joy. When they arrive at
the rich re-statement of the theme, what wonderful playing there is, so
sonorous and they provide a wistfully, delicate little conclusion to the
This duo takes us so naturally into the moderately paced
opening to the Allegro non troppo,
slowly building the dynamics and tempo. Soon the echoes of the second movement
appear, yet Elgar seems to fight against the melancholy and thoughtfulness,
with these playerspointing up so finely
the conflict of emotions before pushing the music ahead with some lovely
playing, never missing any of the subtleties of emotional content. And as the
music slowly turns from quietly wistful to a stronger, more resolute character,
there is some truly fine playing.
Those looking for a fine performance of the Elgar with an
unusual yet extremely rewarding coupling should look to this new recording. The
recording made at The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada is excellent.
The Australian based Trio Anima Mundiwww.trioanimamundi.comwas founded in
2008 and has since become a regular part of Melbourne's chamber music life with
their annual themed subscription concerts series that bring an eclectic mix of
repertoire from the great masters to little-known works. The Trio's members are
Kenji Fujimura (piano), Rochelle Ughetti (violin), Miranda Brockman (cello).
One can only be impressed at the variety of works in their
repertoire that encompasses works from the great classics to contemporary and
includes composers as diverse as Bach, Haydn, Mozart,Beethoven and Brahms,
through Bernstein, Copland,Debussy, Turina
and Walton to Elfrida Andrée and Arno Babajanian.
To this we must add
the names of William Hurlstone, Miriam Hyde, Max d'Ollone and Dag Wirén whose
works for piano trio appear on Trio Anima Mundi’s debut recording entitled Romantic Piano Trios, just released by Divine
Art Recordingswww.divine-art.co.uk . This new disc has something of an
international flavour with composers from Britain, Australia, France and Sweden.
A near contemporary of Vaughan Williams, William Hurlstone (1876-1906) www.cph.rcm.ac.uk/Virtual%20Exhibitions/Hurlstone/Hurlstone%20Intro.htmwas
one of the great losses to British music, dying at a young age. He studied
under Stanford at the Royal College of Music and went on to become their
youngest Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint. His compositions include a piano concerto,
orchestral works and a number of chamber works including his Piano Trio in G major, written in 1905,
and which appears on this new recording.
The Allegro moderato
opens with a real romantic waltz that soon gives way to a faster section with
rhythmic piano phrases over the strings. The music alternates between the
slower theme and the romantic waltz theme with much fine invention. It is
lovely the way Hurlstone shares the themes around the instruments. The pianoopens the Andante before the strings join in a melancholy little melody.
This attractive movement is so well written for the various instruments with
some lovely harmonies and timbres so well brought out by the Trio Anima Mundi.
There is a lightly dancing scherzo, Molto
vivace, full of life with a beautiful trio section before the Allegro comodo that has an attractive
theme that permeates the whole movement and a second subject that has the
nature of a Scottish Air. The movement rushes to the coda with a fine flourish.
There is playing of much warmth and understanding from the
Trio Anima Mundi.
The Australian composer
Miriam Hyde (1913-2005)http://australiancomposers.com.au/composers/miriamhyde.htmlwrote over 150 compositions including orchestral
works, instrumental works, songs and piano works. She won an AMEB (Australian Music Examinations
Board) scholarship at the age of twelve to the Elder Conservatorium, Adelaide as
a pupil of William Silver, who remained her tutor until 1931. She later won the
Elder Overseas Scholarship that enabled her to study at the Royal College of
Music, London with Arthur Benjamin and Gordon Jacob.
As a concert pianist she performed with conductors such as Sir
Malcolm Sargent, Constant Lambert, Georg Schnéevoigt, Sir Bernard Heinze and
Geoffrey Simon. She was also a published poet and wrote an autobiography. Given
that 2013 is her centenary year, it is good to have a recording of her Fantasy Trio, Op.26 for violin, cello and
piano, written in 1933.
It is a romantic work, reflecting her preference for such a
style. Though such a piece would have found itself out of fashion in 1933, this
no longer matters given the passage of time. In one movement, it opens
purposefully with a lovely flowing melody before slowing to a more thoughtful
section. There is some lovely invention here, attractively shared by the
instruments. There is no lack of drama
and interest in its nine minutes. Halfway through the music again slows to a
beautiful interlude, before the music returns to the opening theme that leads to
d'Ollone (1875-1959) was born in Besançon, France and studied at the Paris
Conservatoire with Alexandre Lavignac, Jules Massenet, André Gedalge and Charles
Lenepveu, winning the Prix de Rome in 1897. His works encompass opera and
ballet as well as the Trio for piano,
violin and cello in A minor includedon this disc.
An anxious sounding, forward thrusting theme announces the Allegro ma non troppo e ben deciso but
this soon gives way to a slower theme, a very attractive rising and falling
motif with some lovely rippling passages from the piano. Though dating from
1920, this trio shows that d’Ollone was obviously a romantic at heart. The Trio
Anima gives such taut, expressive playing. After more forward driving music
there is a tranquil reflective section before a decisive coda. The piano opens
the darker, melancholy Adagio before
a wistful string melody appears. Halfway through there is a lovely passage for
piano before a string melody above a rippling piano motif that weaves its way
to a subdued conclusion.
The Scherzo: Allegro
brings some terrifically fine playing from the Trio Anima, with fine ensemble
and dynamics in this light rhythmic opening. Soon a slow section arrives with a
tentative theme before the two themes combine as the music tries to move
forward. The light rhythmic theme soon takes over to end this movement.
An unsettled theme opens the Finale: Presto, rushing forward with some particularly fine playing
from Kenji Fujimura as the music hurtles on, swaying to and fro as it does.
Halfway through the strings bring a slightly more restrained feel but the piano
drives the music forward to end this Trio.
Dag Wirén (1905-1986)www.gehrmans.se/en/composers/wiren_dagachieved a certain fame in the UK when
the final Marcia movement of his Serenade for String Orchestra Op.11 was
used as the theme tune to the BBC arts programme Monitor. He was born into a musical family in the region of
Bergslagen and studied composition at the State Academy of Music in Stockholm
before continuing his studies in Paris, where he was greatly influenced by neo
classicism, Les Six and Stravinsky. Other influences were Nielsen and Sibelius.
His compositions include a number of ballets, choral works, songs, five
symphonies, concertos, instrumental works and chamber works of which the Piano Trio No.1, Op.6 (1932) features
A seemingly unstoppable Allegro
surges forward in music that surprisingly sounds more advanced than the other
works on this disc. Soon a second subject appears, slower and more thoughtful,
even sombre in nature. Rippling piano scales lift the music back to the
original theme where there is some terrific playing from the Trio Anima, with superb
ensemble. The second subject returns, with an almost Slavic flavour before the
music rushes to the end. When the Adagio
arrives it feels as though the music has picked up on the sombre nature of the second
subject of the first movement with music of dark strength with an inexorable
feel to it as it develops passionately. This is a great piece.
The brief Fughetta
is light and rhythmic, showing, again, the fine accomplishment of this Trio. The
piano picks out a quiet theme against pizzicato strings in the opening of the Alla Passacaglia. This quickly leads
into a mournful melody before a rhythmic motif from the piano heralds a faster
section that develops its contrapuntal theme with some difficult individual
string passages. The music slowly develops through a series of variants before
a scintillating coda.
This is a fascinating and rewarding disc with excellent
playing from the Trio Anima Mundi. The recording from the Music Auditorium, Sir
Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University, Melbourne is excellent. There
are informative booklet notes by the trio’s pianist, Kenji Fujimura.
Pianist Sarah Beth Briggswww.sarahbethbriggs.co.ukwas a pupil of the late Denis Matthews. She
gained a Hindemith Scholarship to study chamber music in Switzerland with the
violist, Bruno Giuranna, and remained in Lausanne for further studies with
Chilean pianist Edith Fischer. Her professional career was launched at the age
of eleven when she became, what was at the time, the youngest-ever finalist in
the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Four years later she gained international
recognition as joint winner of the International Mozart Competition in
She has performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Hallé Orchestra, London Mozart Players, London Philharmonic Orchestra, English
Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Manchester
Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, and
Northern Sinfonia. She has been the featured soloist at major British venues
including Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, London’s South Bank auditoria, and the
Barbican Centre and has performed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and
the USA. She gave the World Premiere of Britten’s Three Character Pieces.
Sarah Beth Briggs has also performed as pianist in several
acclaimed chamber groups including Trio Melziwww.zen67439.zen.co.uk/_SarahBethBriggs/pages/main_fr_direct_ens_melzi.htmwhich celebrated its tenth anniversary in
2010. As a chamber musician, she has featured on BBC2 and Radio 3. In addition
to her chamber music coaching and tuition at York University she has given master
classes throughout the UK and in the USA. Her concerto performances have led to
appearances in many countries, engagements with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra
and a series of concerts at San Francisco’s Midsummer Mozart Festival.
Sarah Beth Briggs’ recordings for Semaphore include a disc
of Beethoven, Brahms, Britten and Rawsthorne; Haydn, Mozart, Bartok, Brahms and
Chopin; and Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart.
A new release from
Semaphore features Sarah Beth Briggs performing Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor,
K475, Beethoven’s Sonata in C Minor, Op.13 ‘Pathetique’
and Schubert’s Sonata in B flat Major, D960.
From the sense of anticipation in the opening Adagio of Mozart Fantasy in C minor, Sarah Beth
Briggs develops a beautifully paced development. There is a fine purity of
sound to her playing, yet later, as the Allegro arrives, she so naturally
brings fluid dramatic playing. Her poise in the quieter sections really points
up the more passionate passages and there is a real sense of overall form.
Sarah Beth Briggs follows on naturally in Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata taking
the quiet, Grave opening quickly into
the drama of Beethoven, obviously sensing connections. With the arrival of the Allegro di molto e con brio we hear
Briggs’ terrific rhythmic bounce, fine articulation and ability to drive this
music forward without any sense of being hurried. Again the sense of anticipation
she develops in the quieter, more meditative moments, is thrilling, her control
of tempi adding so much interest to the music.
In the lovely flowing Adagio
cantabile this pianist brings out all the delicate subtleties and, for all
the calm, one can sense an underlying tension. She knows just how to phrase the
music to great effect. She opens with a fairly understated Rondo: Allegro before developing this music with playing of great
fluency and articulation, building to some terrific playing. Sarah Beth Briggs
gives such refined playing that always retains clarity and poise.
It is Briggs’ fine control and sense of overall
architectural form that marks out her playing of Schubert’s last great Piano
Sonata in B flat Major D960. There is, right from the start of the Molto Moderato, a feeling of great
things about to happen. As she builds up the development, her persuasive
expression and control add to the drama and sense of expectation. The four
repeated notes that appear, surely influenced by Beethoven, are almost
threatening in their intensity. She has the full measure of the scope of
Schubert’s great creation with such fine dynamics and phrasing. How she colours
some of the quieter little phrases is rather magical.
This pianist brings a terrific atmosphere to the opening of
the Andante Sostenuto, quiet haunting
in character, until it becomes more expansive. There is some lovely playing
after the opening tempo returns later on, leading to the tranquil coda. The Scherzo. Allegro Vivace con delicatezza brings
relief from the intensity of the Andante
with some very fine playing, such a lovely touch, so light, sprung and nimble,
a joy to listen to, so exquisitely done.
The Allegro ma non
troppo is no less joyful with Sarah Beth Briggs providing playing that is
full of rhythmic panache as well as reflecting every contour of the music.
There is no lack of drama in the more passionate sections where Briggs really
throws herself into it with playing of great thrust and impetuosity.
This is an extremely fine CD with a particularly fine Schubert
performance. There is a nicely produced booklet with notes by Sarah Beth
Briggs. The recording made at Potton Hall, Suffolk, England, the venue for so
many fine recordings, is excellent.
Saxophonist and composer Uwe Steinmetz (b.1975)www.u-musik.us/live https://twitter.com/uwesteinmetzwas born in
Bremervörde, Germany. He started to play flute in a local brass band at the age
of seven, and soon after began composing German folk tunes and theatre music
for his school. He later changed to the saxophone, participating in numerous
master classes and workshops, and composing for school ensembles. He was a
member of the regional and national youth jazz orchestras and toured throughout
Europe and the United States.
Steinmetz continued his musical education in Berlin and Bern
with Gebhard Ullman and Frank Sikora, followed by studies at The NewEngland
Conservatory of Music in Boston where he worked with Ben Schwendener, George
Russell and Jerry Bergonzi. He holds degrees in jazz composition, and saxophone
performance as well as a certificate from George Russell for advanced studies
in his Lydian Chromatic Concept, authorizing him to teach all aspects of
Russell’s unique music theory, which shaped modern jazz in the 1960’s and
Steinmetz lives and works as a freelance musician in Berlin
and has performed his own music on four continents and in more than thirty
countries as well as recording around a dozen CDs. His Kantata„ God is Now für Jazz nonett, Choir and
3000 singers in 4 Groups took place at the closing ceremony of the
International Choir Festival in Greifswald, GER on August 26th 2012.
Steinmetz has been a recipient of numerous grants and
prizes, including the 2000 Theodor Fontane Award from the Stifterverbandder
Deutschen Wissenschaft, first prize at the 2001 European Jazz Competition in
Getxo, Spain, the ‘Jazz In’ prize awarded by Lower Saxony in 2005/2006, and
grants for his compositions and other artistic work from the ministries of
culture in Hanover and Berlin.
In addition to his teaching, Steinmetz has given saxophone
master classes and music theory workshops in high schools and conservatories in
both Germany and the US. He has served as a juror for youth jazz competitions
in Germany and has served as an assistant music teacher at the Kodaikanal
International School in Tamil Nadu, South India, where he also studied
fundamentals of South Indian (carnatic) music. He has been on the faculty at
the Conservatory of Music in Rostock, Germany, since 2008.
Steinmetz’s compositions include works for choir, string
quartet and jazz ensemble, organ, guitar, saxophone and jazz orchestra. Since 2002 he has worked with the London based
Fitzwilliam String Quartet who appear with him on a new release of his works
from Divine Art Recordingswww.divine-art.co.ukalso
featuring violinist Mads Tolling.http://madstolling.com
The title of this new CD Absolutely!
is from the first work on the disc Absolutely!
– Suite for String Quartet, Saxophone and Violin Solo (2008) a musical
meditation on purity, unselfishness, honesty and love. Written in five
movements it opens with Prelude where
the quartet and solo violin are soon joined by the saxophone in a strikingly
unusual sound. The music has the feel of being at least partly improvised,
particularly in the saxophone flourishes, yet there is a firm structure here. There
is a passage where the solo violin really swings in a terrific, jazz inspired
section accompanied by the quartet complete with pizzicato cello acting in the
form of a jazz double bass. The saxophone re-joins before a spiky rhythm ensues
allowing some terrific playing from saxophone and violin.
Purity opens with some
unusual dissonances from the whole ensemble before falling to a more thoughtful
mode taken up by the solo violin and quartet. There is some fine playing here,
as well as strange cries from the solo violin. The saxophone weaves above the
other players in some spectacularly difficult displays of virtuosity before
calming a little as the sax and violin form a kind of duet playing above the
quartet. The movement ends a long note that fades.
The saxophone opens with jazz flourishes above the string
quartet, who set a rhythmic pace in Honesty.
The sax and violin eventually join in a short duet, the violin taking over with
quartet accompaniment. This particularly bluesy movement has great freedom and
breath giving all the musicians the opportunity to really take off.
some unusual sounds provided by the orkon-flute (see below) Soon the quartet
presents a slow, plodding theme before the orkon-flute and solo violin join in.
This soon develops into the drone of a Raga on which it is based. Eventually a
jazzy duet between flute and solo violin arrives before the quartet re-joins
with rich, chordal playing. The violin then plays a jazzy theme around the
quartet before the drone like sounds return.
A slightly syncopated slow theme for strings opens Love, around which the solo violin
weaves a bluesy line. When the saxophone enters, the music rises up to a pitch
before slackening as the solo violin joins. The syncopated theme reappears and,
as the sax reappears, duetting with the violin over the syncopated quartet, it
leads to the coda.
There is some superb playing from Uwe Steinmetz (saxophone),
Mads Tolling (violin) and the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. www.fitzwilliamquartet.org
for Steve Lacy for soprano saxophone and solo instrument or voice(2011) opens with a modern take on the
traditional chaconne. The saxophone joins to add the jazz element alongside the
violin. This is an incredible success, combining jazz and a classical chaconne
all brilliantly played by both Steinmetz and Tolling, especially as they reach
a falling motif together, reminiscent of a baroque concerto.
Steinmetz’s arrangement of Purcell’s Fantasia No.7 for four viols, Z.738 (1680) opens fairly
conventionally on the strings (this work adapts easily for a string quartet)
before the singular sound of the saxophone joins – yet it sounds quite in
keeping, as though time has been compressed and Purcell has used the instrument
and jazz style quite naturally. This is a triumph from these fine musicians.
Steinmetz’s own Fantasia No.1 ‘Epiphany’ for string
quartet and soprano saxophone (2009) follows, a work of some accomplishment
that sits naturally within the arrangements of Purcell’s Fantasias. It is more
conventionally jazz based, the quartet, nevertheless, providing a modern take
on the Fantasia with the saxophone of Steinmetz combining brilliantly with the Fitzwilliam
in another of Steinmetz arrangements, this time of his Fantasia No.11 for four viols, Z.742 (1680) and what an
arrangement it is with the quartet providing the line over which the saxophone
has an almost baroque feel, as though replacing a piccolo trumpet. This is another
fabulous performance with Steinmetz providing some terrific jazz improvisations
over the Purcellian sounds of the Fitzwilliam Quartet.
Finally we come to Bach as filtered through the imaginations
of Fitzwilliam violinist, Lucy Russell and Uwe Steinmetz. Bach’s Chaconne from his Violin Partita No.2, BWV
1004 (1720) opens with some fine playing from the Fitzwilliam Quartet
before Steinmetz enters, at first only adding occasionally light touches,
before developing a more elaborate improvised counterpoint to the Fitzwilliam’s
occasionally swirling strings. There is more superb string playing and
inventive sax improvisations from Steinmetz with both blending wonderfully.
What would Bach have thought of this arrangement? We have no
way of knowing but I have a sneaking suspicion he would have loved it.
Well recorded with excellent notes from Uwe Steinmetz,
Fitzwilliam violist, Alan George and Divine Art’s own Stephen Sutton, this is a
disc that all open minded classical and jazz lovers should investigate.
In November 2012 I reviewed a fascinating book by Stuart
Isacoff entitled A Natural History of the Piano. Souvenir Presshttp://www.souvenirpress.co.uk/2013/08/a-natural-history-of-the-piano/ have now published a paperback edition
of this informative and entertaining book that explores the history and
evolution of the piano and how its sound provides the basis for emotional
expression and individualstyle.
ISBN - 9780285642379
Such is the breadth of this volume that it covers musicians
from Mozart to Modern Jazz, pulling together such great names as Oscar
Peterson, Art Tatum, Rachmaninov and Horowitz.
There are chapters on how the piano developed as well as a
chapter on the shaping of the piano’s sounds, pedal technique, tuning and
temperament and pianists’ playing styles. Even the influence of film, radio and
television on the piano is covered.
Hans von Bülow (1830-1894)www.buelow-wettbewerb-meiningen.deis best known to many people as a conductor, but he was also a virtuoso
pianist and composer. Born in Dresden, he studied with Friedrich Wieck, Clara
Schumann and Ignaz Moscheles. He met Liszt in Leipzig, where his parents had sent
him to study law, but it was attending the premiere of Wagner’s Lohengrin that finally
made him decide to make a career in music.
Bülow studied piano in Leipzig with the famous teacher Louis
Plaidy. During the autumn of 1850, he followed Richard Wagner to Zurich and
became a student of Franz Liszt in Weimar. He became a piano teacher at Stern
Conservatory as well as giving private lessons to Cosima Liszt, whom he married
in 1857. Notoriously tactless, Bülow alienated many musicians with whom he
worked but at the same time he was beginning to win renown for his ability to
conduct new and complex works without a score.
As a pianist he was the first to perform the complete cycle
of Beethoven's piano sonatas, which he did from memory. In 1857 he gave the
first public performance of Liszt's great Piano Sonata in B minor, in Berlin.
In 1864, at the invitation of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, he
became Hofkapellmeister at the Munich court. Despite his wife having two
children by Wagner, Bülow continued to support the composer, conducting the
premieres of Tristan und Isolde (10th June 1865) and Die
Meistersänger von Nürnberg (21st June 1868). In 1867 he became
director of the newly reopened Königliche Musikschule in Munich remaining there
until 1869. Cosima eventually left him for Wagner, divorcing him in 1870.
From 1878 to 1880 Bülow was Hofkapellmeister in Hanover but
was forced to leave after fighting with a tenor in a performance of Lohengrin. In
1880, he was employed as director of the Meiningen Hofkapelle, building up the
orchestra to a position whereby they achieved international acclaim with tours throughout
Europe. Noted for his interpretation of the works of Beethoven, he was one of
the earliest European musicians to tour the United States. It was during his time
with the Meiningen Hofkapelle that he met Richard Strauss in Berlin. Though he
was not initially impressed by the composer he later used his influence to
enable Strauss to obtain his first regular employment as a conductor.
From the 1880s Bülow developed a close collaboration and friendship
with Johannes Brahms. He also championed the music of Tchaikovsky and was the soloist
in the world premiere of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor
in Boston in 1875, apparently having more enthusiasm for the new concerto than
the original dedicatee, Nicholas Rubinstein.
In the late 1880s he settled in Hamburg, but continued to
tour, both as a conductor and pianist. From around 1890 his mental and physical
health began to fail causing him to seek a warmer climate in Egypt. Bülow died
in in Cairo, just ten months after his last concert performance.
With Bülow’s Mazurka
– Fantasie, Op.13 andits rather
gentle opening and leisurely pace, I struggled to find any clearly identifiable
influences. It has a rather lightweight quality until, as it develops, it
becomes more dynamic. Mark Anderson does his best to bring out every little
dynamic in his fine performance but the music does tend to flag at times. Nevertheless,
there is some terrific playing when, towards the coda, Bülow finally pulls out
To my ears Elfenjagd,
Op.14 (Impromptu) isa far more
attractive work with some lovely subtleties and a much tighter construction.
There is some brilliantly fleet playing from Anderson in this piece that has hints
of Schumann and Mendelssohn.
The Mazurka –
Impromptu, Op.4 is another attractive piece, full of fun, with a lovely rhythmic
poise. Invitation à la Polka is very
much in the same mould and so obviously written by a virtuoso pianist, such is
some of the writing, particularly in the bravura coda.
There is a thoughtful opening to the Chant Polonaise (alla Mazurka), Op.12 before the gentle lilt of the
Mazurka appears. There are more impassioned moments and some wonderfully fluid
playing from Anderson, as well as a brilliant conclusion.
I was particularly attracted to Bulow’s Trois Valse caracteristique, Op.18,witha beautifully
written Valse de ‘L’Ingeru’ that
wouldn’t disgrace a major composer, a more dynamic Valse du ‘Jaloux’ nicely pointed up by Anderson and Valse du ‘Glorieux’ that has a memorable
theme and a lovely forward flow, beautifully developed. I very much enjoyed
these waltzes that are full of invention and well worth hearing, particularly
when so well played as here.
The final work on this disc is Königsmarsch, Op.28 which, after opening with bell like chords,
develops in the grand manner before settling to a more moderate pace with a
distinctive four note motif. There is an attractive central section before the four
note motif returns, with Lisztian falling phrases and the return of the opening
in the coda. Though this would probably make a good encore piece, the music is
somewhat obvious at times.
Well recorded at Wyaston Leys and with excellent booklet notes
by Paul Conway, this is a fascinating release that explores the byways of 19th
century German music through one of the most famous conductors of the time.
Though there are no undiscovered gems here, many of the pieces are most
attractive and brilliantly played by Mark Anderson.
approached as early as 1958 to write a work for the opening of the new Coventry
Cathedralwww.coventrycathedral.org.ukbuilt to replace the old Cathedral
destroyed during the Second World War. When he was commissioned, in 1960, to
write a large scale choral work for this event, he appears to have been annoyed
that the clergy of the Cathedral seemed to want to avoid paying him a fee,
writing,’…they must be prepared to pay for it, just as they have had to pay the
workmen to build the Cathedral.
Nevertheless, by early 1961 composition had begun on what
was to be the War Requiem, with
Britten contacting Galina Vishnevskayawww.opera-centre.ru/vishnevskayaand Dietrich Fischer-Dieskauwww.mwolf.de/start.htmlwith a view to them taking two of the three solo parts in the Cathedral premiere.
Peter Pears was, of course, to take the tenor role thus bringing together artists
from the Soviet Union, Germany and Britain representing the three countries
that suffered most during the war.
Britten had, since the death of Ghandi in 1948, wanted to
write some kind of Requiem in his memory and it may be that these ideas were
resurrected when the idea of the new choral work arose. There was also a
personal element to the new work dedicated, as it was, in loving memory of
Roger Burney, Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve; Piers Dunkerley,
Captain, Royal Marines; David Gill, Ordinary seaman, Royal Navy and Michael
Halliday, Lieutenant, Royal New Zealand Volunteer Reserve.
Clearly expressing Britten’s pacifist beliefs, the War Requiem
sets the words of the Latin requiem mass alongside the poetry of Wilfred Owenwww.wilfredowen.org.uk/home . Writing
from Greece, where he completed the orchestral score, Britten wrote, I was completely
absorbed in this piece as really never before.’ Given that the War Requiem is
arguably one of Britten’s finest works it is surely no surprised that Britten put
so much into this work.
The rehearsals for the Requiem were not without problems.
Britten found the acoustic of the new Cathedral to be appalling, the builders
were still working on the site and the Cathedral authorities not helpful. It
was also quickly realised that it would be impossible for Britten to conduct
both the main orchestra and the required chamber orchestra in the space
available. In the event it was decided that Meredith Davies would conduct the
main orchestra whilst Britten would conduct the chamber orchestra.
To add to Britten’s problems, Galina Vishnevskaya was unable
to perform due to problems with the Soviet authorities. Heather Harper took her
place, though in the subsequent Decca recording Galina Vishnevskaya was able to
The premiere of the War Requiem took place at Coventry
Cathedral, on the evening of 30th May 1962. The start was delayed
due to problems getting the audience into the Cathedral.
In addition to Britten’s own Decca recording with his
preferred soloists, Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears and Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau, there have been a good number of other recordings. One of my
own favourites is from the late Richard Hickox with the soloists Heather
Harper, Philip Langridge and John Shirley-Quirk (Chandos). However, there have
been recordings issued with conductors such as Kurt Masur (LPO), Gianandrea
Noseda (LSO Live), John Eliot Gardiner (DG), Simon Rattle (EMI), Martyn
Brabbins (Naxos), Maris Jansons (BR Klassik), Karel Ancerl (Supraphon) and Seiji
Ozawa (Decca), to name but a few.
This new recording is taken from three performances at the
Watford Colosseum, Birmingham Town Hall and the Church of St Michael and All
Angels, Summertown, Oxford between January and March 2013.
Britten’s War Requiem
is in six parts, Requiem Aeternum, Dies Irae, Offertorium, Sanctus, Agnus Dei
and Libera Me.
As the chorus opens the Requiem
Aeternum is as though they are rising from the depths before building magnificently
only to fall back to the lovely Te Decet
Hymnus, with the fine sounds of the boys’ choir. As the Requiem Aeternum tries to reassert
itself the choir slowly tries to rise again until tenor, John Mark Ainsley,
enters withWhat passing bells.
As with so many of Britten’s works, one always associates this role with Peter
Pears, such is the writing so directed to his voice. Here John Mark Ainsley is
in fine voice, keeping a balance between providing a vocally anguished edge to
his voice and melodiousness. With the Kyrie
Eleison we are returned to the hushed world of mourning with the choir
beautifully and affectingly controlled.
Trumpets herald the Dies
irae in a moment of deep anticipation before the choir enters, slowly
building in strength, before the return of the trumpets. Chorus re-enters building
up even more before timpani and brass arrive in a tremendous section so fully
realised here. The choir are terrific as the pitch builds up. Surely this is one
of the great moments in music. This choir is so well disciplined and
Christopher Maltman gives so much feeling to Wilfred Owen’s
verses in Bugles Sang, with a fine
instrumental accompaniment and always an underlying tension. It builds to an
anguished pitch, absolutely terrific. In the Liber Scriptus soprano Susan Gritton sings the part written for
Galina Vishnevskaya, with a suitably firm edge to her voice but never shrill,
quite superb, so finely controlled and balanced against the choir. Out there we walked brings baritone and
tenor in a fiendishly difficult duet to pull off, yet that is exactly what John
Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman do to great effect, judging the bitter dialogue
so well. As the brass ensemble leads magnificently into the Recordarethis is another beautiful and
affecting high point, with this choir singing superbly.
The Confutatis has
the choir showing remarkable ensemble, building to a terrific climax and
leading straight into Be slowly lifted up,
where Christopher Maltman is in terrific voice, full, rich, powerful and
anguished. The chorus builds even more on the baritone’s power when the Dies Irae returns with increased urgency,
until slowly losing energy as the music moves into the Lacrimosa with Susan Gritton giving a superbly emotional performance.
Move him into the sun brings the
return of John Mark Ainsley, so poetic in this Owen setting, so finely
controlled and agile, feeling the words so well. How Britten skilfully
dovetails the Lacrimosa with Owen’s
poetry is remarkable. The Pie Jesu follows
on from the anguished voice of Ainsley in the most affecting way with a
beautifully hushed ending from the chorus.
opens with Domine Jesu Christe and
the choristers of New College, Oxford sounding wonderful in the large acoustic.
Sed Signifier Sanctus Michael brings
the main chorus, raising the spirits in a firm, animated section, with terrific
support from the orchestra until breaking into So Abram rose, with another fine dialogue between tenor and
baritone, hideously and powerfully expressive at first then in a beautifully fine
blend of voices, as God stops Abram from killing his son with the words ‘…lay
not thy hand upon the lad.’
Again Britten dovetails the So Abram with the Hostius e
preces with stunning effect. These performers are spectacularly good and, as
the soloists fade against the boys choir there is more fine singing from the
choir in the Quam olim Abrahae.
With the Sanctus,
bells herald the soprano in a difficult passage superbly managed by Susan
Gritton and the percussionist Adrien Perruchon. The choir grow slowly louder, until
the Sanctus fully arrives in another
of the great moments in this work, magnificently done by these forces and
recorded to overwhelming effect in the large acoustic. Susan Gritton is particularly
fine in the Benedictus and the return
of the Sanctus is phenomenally
stirring – another Britten triumph. After
the blast brings baritone Christopher Maltman, very fine and extracting great
atmosphere and feeling from the texts.
One ever hangs has
John Mark Ainsley juxtaposing Wilfred Owen’s verses with the choral Agnus Dei. Who could not be touched by
The Libera Merises out of dark orchestral sounds as
the chorus intone the Libera Me, as
though wearily moving forward. Slowly the music quickens and rises to a pitch
with the words Libera Me, Domine(Deliver me, O Lord). An anguished Susan
Gritton enters before the chorus returns in a big climax for soprano and choir
that collapses into It seemed that out of
the battle I escaped, another superb moment so well realised here.This dialogue for tenor and baritone is one
of this works most poignant moments. Against a hushed and spare orchestral
accompaniment Ainsley sings ‘It seemed like out of battle I escaped’ especially
well sung at the words ‘And no guns thumped…’.
Britten’s use of individual woodwind instruments adds an
extra emotional pull and when he enters, Maltman brings superb feeling to the
text and, as he reaches the words ‘I am the
enemy you killed my friend’, it is a heart stopping moment. Let us sleep now comes as a release from
the tension, as the tenor and baritone are joined by the boys’ choir singing
the In Paradisum. The chorus enters
and the orchestra weaves around the ensemble, soon the soprano joins, soaring
above the choir and orchestra as before a beautifully hushed Requiescant in pace.
This new recording is a considerable achievement for all
those involved. Paul McCreesh manages these large forces brilliantly to bring
us a terrific performance.
Britten’s own Decca performance will always be special and I
would not want to be without Richard Hickox’s fine version, but this new release,
with excellent sound and first rate presentation, ranks as one of the finest of