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Britten: The World of the Spirit, etc / Richard Hickox

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : An American Overture
>Britten, Benjamin : King Arthur, suite for orchestra
>Britten, Benjamin : The World of the Spirit, music for a radio program, for SATB soloists, chorus & orchestra
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"...This release offers premiere recordings of a suite compiled by Paul Hindmarsh...This four-part, twenty-five minute work contains many befittingly stirring and colorful pages...conductor Hickox and annotator-arranger Paul Hindmarsh - plus all the other participants both in front of the microphones and behind the scenes - are to be congratulated for salvaging this once ephemeral (or at least evanescent) material...admirers of Britten are profoundly in their debt." -Snook, Fanfare

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Hickox's performance of the Coplandesque An American Overture has exemplary polish, commitment and dash. The remaining items owe their revival to the efforts of Paul Hindmarsh.

Britten wrote his incidental music for a BBC radio dramatisation of the King Arthur legend in 1937. It was the first of his 28 radio commissions and contains much high-quality invention.

Hindmarsh has fashioned the 23-year-old composer's inventive inspiration into a terrific four movement orchestral suite lasting some 25 minutes, which Hickox and the BBC PO devour with audible relish.

The 'radio cantata' The World of the Spirit dates from May 1938. Commissioned by the BBC as a successor to The Company of Heaven (1937), it intersperses sung and spoken texts chosen by R Ellis Roberts. Again, Britten's fertile compositional powers are much in evidence.

The work contains a whole string of memorable numbers, from the lilting barcarolle- like treatment of Emily Brontë's 'With wide-embracing love', via the joyful strut and swagger of Part-2's concluding 'The Spirit of the Lord' with its unmistakable echoes of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, to a strikingly imaginative setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins's God's Grandeur. Framing the 42-minute edifice are two radiant settings of the Whitsuntide plainsong, Veni Creator Spiritus - an idea possibly inspired by a recent encounter with Mahler's Eighth Symphony at the Queen's Hall under Sir Henry Wood.

The recording is superbly wide in its range and offers a realistic quality.



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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : An American Overture
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (10/30/1995-06/27/1996)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1941

>Britten, Benjamin : King Arthur, suite for orchestra
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (10/30/1995-06/27/1996)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1937

>Britten, Benjamin : The World of the Spirit, music for a radio program, for SATB soloists, chorus & orchestra
  • Performers: Susan Chilcott (Soprano); Martyn Hill; Britten Singers (Voice); Pamela Stephen (Mezzo Soprano); Stephen Varcoe
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (10/30/1995-06/27/1996)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1938