Thursday, May 10, 2012

Britten, Britain's best?

This topic has always been meant to highlight composers beyond the acknowledged greats - and of course, there are composers where you can argue just how great they are. A case in point is Benjamin Britten, perhaps the greatest composer ever to come from the UK, and yet absent in many classical CD collections. Although his main claim to fame is in his vocal works (many great operas, song cycles, as well as the astonishing War Requiem, one of my personal favourite 20th century compositions), he composed orchestral music of outstanding quality. It is in the latter repertoire that I have selected the Naxos CD for this post. Three pivotal works, including the early (1940) Sinfonia da Requiem, the substantial suite from the 1953 opera Gloriana, and the piece de resistance, the four orchestral interludes and passacaglia from his opera masterpiece, the 1945 opera Peter Grimes. Well played by the London Symphony Orchestra under Steuart Bedford (originally a Collins Classics issue). An excellent introduction to this rewarding composer.