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Britten: Les Illuminations; Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge ; Serenade; Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal / Barbara Hannigan, soprano; James Gilchrist, tenor

Notes & Reviews:

2013 marks the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten, and this fascinating collection from Channel Classics features a selection of works that demonstrate perfectly his brilliant manner of writing for string orchestra, unique treatment of text and rich palette of musical colors. Amsterdam Sinfonietta, led by Candida Thompson, are joined by soprano Barbara Hannigan, tenor James Gilchrist and horn soloist Jasper de Waal in a program that includes Les Illuminations, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge and the rarely-heard Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. Recorded in high-resolution surround-sound, this disc presents Britten's music in the finest audio quality available.

Financial Times, 23rd February 2013
Wonderfully alert readings by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

Gramophone Magazine, March 2013
Hannigan brings to the text the dramatic energy she has to burn in her championship of Ligeti and Boulez, while the conductorless orchestra and soloist (herself sometimes a conductor) sound a natural fit...[in the Serenade] both soloists play their parts quite straight...An enjoyable and carefully balanced CD.

American Record Guide, May/June 2013
This collection of four Britten standards (I do include 'Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal') is a good assemblage of music. Texts are included.

Sunday Times, 3rd March 2013
Gilchrist's Serenade, with Jasper de Waal the stupendous horn soloist, is one of the best things the English tenor has done on disc - Pears-like in its intensity and crystalline diction. The Sinfonietta's strings have a whale of a time as a band of wannabe Paganinis in the Aria Italiana of the Bridge Variations.

BBC Music Magazine, April 2013
Hannigan brings a fined-down intensity to the more hushed Rimbaud settings such as 'Being Beauteous', but elsewhere her tone tends to flutter under pressure...Gilchrist, by contrast, sounds at home in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings...and while his slightly reedy timbre sounds very different to Peter Pears, he brings equally valid insights into this iconic cycle.

Audiophile Audition, April 2013
The strings were absolutely beautiful, transients and attacks were sharp, voices were natural, and the totality of the experience was musical and satisfying in every way...Frankly, I can't imagine recorded music sounding much better.

The Arts Desk, 27th April 2013
Candida Thompson's Amsterdam Sinfonietta disc is pretty special - vibrant, incisive and colourful...Hannigan's account of Les Illuminations is strong, her quickfire delivery in Parade a highlight...Gilchrist's vibrato is strong but totally idiomatic, matched by Jasper der Waal's bright-toned, very European horn sound.


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