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Britten to America: Music for Radio and Theatre / Samuel West, Mary Carewe, Jean Rigby, Andrew Kennedy

Audio Samples

>Britten, Benjamin : The Ascent of F6, incidental music for female voice, 2 male voices, percussion, ukelele & 2 pianos
>Britten, Benjamin : An American in England, music for a 6-part radio program, for orchestra
>Britten, Benjamin : Roman Wall Blues, song for male voice, string quartet & percussion (for the radio play Hadrian's Wal
>Britten, Benjamin : On the Frontier, incidental music for male voice, chorus, 2 trumpets, percussion, accordion & piano
>Britten, Benjamin : Britain to America, music for 3 radio programs, for orchestra
>     Where do we go from here?

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : The Ascent of F6, incidental music for female voice, 2 male voices, percussion, ukelele & 2 pianos
>Britten, Benjamin : An American in England, music for a 6-part radio program, for orchestra
>Britten, Benjamin : Roman Wall Blues, song for male voice, string quartet & percussion (for the radio play Hadrian's Wal
>Britten, Benjamin : On the Frontier, incidental music for male voice, chorus, 2 trumpets, percussion, accordion & piano
>Britten, Benjamin : Britain to America, music for 3 radio programs, for orchestra
Performers Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

  • The majority of these early and unrecorded works haven't been heard since first performed in the 1940s.
  • The music heard here contains large sections of blues, jazz, a 'Tibetan' chant, a Bach chorale and even a ukulele number!
  • A variety of fine musicians brings these works back to life!
  • The British actor Samuel West has appeared in the movies Van Helsing and Howard's End among others; he's frequently seen on the the Royal Shakespeare Company stage and also regularly heard in radio dramas.

Financial Times, 4th January 2014
Unexpected postscript to the composer's centenary shows his versatility and completes the picture of his formative years.

Gramophone Magazine, March 2014
All the participants are excellent, especially actor Samuel West playing a portrait gallery of characters, and NMC's production standards are impeccable, rolling together spoken word, choruses and instruments so that the seams never show. A disc of incidental music should not be as much fun.



Reviews

Fascinating “historical” look at works of Benjamin Britten
Britten is most certainly one of the most amazing contemporary composers from the early part of the 20th century. This disc focuses on music that he wrote for Radio and Theatre – which needless to say is rather a different medium than one encounters in a traditional symphonic setting. However, this medium and its requirements gives unique insights into the snippets of sounds and concepts that form a composer’s toolbox of go-to musical building blocks, and the disc is fascinating in that respect.

The first piece, “The Ascent of F6”, is the most atonal of the three and definitely provides insight into Britten’s musical language when certain melodic constraints are not of paramount importance. Stark contrast is provided by “An American in England”, written for a six part series broadcast in 1942 to inform the American public about conditions and the wartime effort in England – this features much patriotic and charming sounding music reminiscent of that period of time, and shows the versatility of Britten’s ability in the medium. A short piece called “Roman Wall Blues” follows, featuring gorgeous vocal lines from Mary Carewe (mezzo-soprano) that for this listener was worth the price of the disc all by itself. “On the Frontier”, which follows next, is music for a play that also keeps the wartime theme. The musical selections are generally in the 1 to 2 minute time range, and Britten definitely grabs the listener’s attention even given that short period of time. The last piece, called “Where do we go from here?” again features Mary Carewe’s lovely voice.

The liner notes are predominately historical in nature, and are a fascinating read. In fact, this single CD with liner notes is one of the most informative that I possess in my collection. If you are interested at all in the works and melodic evolution of Britten, I would definitely recommend this recording.
Submitted on 05/13/14 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : The Ascent of F6, incidental music for female voice, 2 male voices, percussion, ukelele & 2 pianos
  • Performers: Lucy Walker (Piano); Nigel Woodhouse (Ukulele); Matthew Dickinson (Percussion); Mervyn Cooke (Piano)
  • Conductor: Jeffrey Skidmore
  • Ensemble: Hallé Orchestra
  • Notes: Djanogly Recital Hall, University of Nottingham, England (07/07/2013-07/08/2013)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1937

>Britten, Benjamin : An American in England, music for a 6-part radio program, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Mark Elder
  • Ensemble: Ex Cathedra
  • Notes: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (09/14/2013-09/15/2013); Hallé St Peters, Manchester (09/14/2013-09/15/2013); Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (10/03/2013); Hallé St Peters, Manchester (10/03/2013)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1942

>Britten, Benjamin : Roman Wall Blues, song for male voice, string quartet & percussion (for the radio play Hadrian's Wal
  • Performers: Huw Watkins (Piano); Mary Carewe
  • Running Time: 2 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 11/1937

>Britten, Benjamin : On the Frontier, incidental music for male voice, chorus, 2 trumpets, percussion, accordion & piano
  • Performers: Lucy Walker (Piano); Jonathan Holland (Trumpet); Matthew Dickinson (Percussion); Bruce Nockles (Trumpet); Mervyn Cooke (Piano)
  • Conductor: Jeffrey Skidmore
  • Notes: Djanogly Recital Hall, University of Nottingham, England (07/07/2013-07/08/2013)
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1938

>Britten, Benjamin : Britain to America, music for 3 radio programs, for orchestra :: Where do we go from here?
  • Performer: Mary Carewe
  • Conductor: Harry Ogg
  • Notes: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (09/14/2013-09/15/2013); Hallé St Peters, Manchester (09/14/2013-09/15/2013); Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (10/03/2013); Hallé St Peters, Manchester (10/03/2013)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1942