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Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings; Nocturne; Finzi: Dies Natalis / Mark Padmore, tenor; Stephen Bell, horn

Audio Samples

>Britten, Benjamin : Serenade, for tenor, horn & strings, Op. 31
>Britten, Benjamin : Nocturne, Op. 60
>Finzi, Gerald : Dies Natalis, cantata for soprano (or tenor) & string orchestra, Op. 8

Album Summary

>Britten, Benjamin : Serenade, for tenor, horn & strings, Op. 31
>Britten, Benjamin : Nocturne, Op. 60
>Finzi, Gerald : Dies Natalis, cantata for soprano (or tenor) & string orchestra, Op. 8
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Celebrated tenor Mark Padmore and the Britten Sinfonia present a program featuring some of the most beautiful English music for voice and orchestra ever written. The centerpiece is Benjamin Britten's magical evocation of twilight and nightfall, the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op.31, for which he is joined by the dulcet tones of Stephen Bell on French horn. Completing the disc are Gerald Finzi's song-cycle Dies Natalis, with its ecstatic mood reflecting a child's wideeyed wonder at the world, and Britten's fourth and final orchestral song cycle, the poignant Nocturne, Op.60. Long associated with the great Peter Pears, Padmore makes this music his own in stunning performances that welcome comparison to any singer, past or present.

"So tender and piercing that you really do seem to be listening to these song cycles anew...Padmore’s tenor audibly sports some family resemblances [to Pears], though he’s less precious than Pears, with a conversational ease when singing pianissimo never mastered by Britten’s love and muse. These are intensely sensitive and poetic readings, strengthened further by Stephen Bell’s clean and lyrical horn." -The Times

"Padmore proves to be a more convincing interpreter of Finzi than he is of Britten...there remains something rather neutral and restrained about his approach at moments when the music would really benefit from a firmer grip. In Dies Natalis, though, he shows that grip – it's a wonderfully muscular performance, beautifully judged and shaded, set off by suitably rapturous string playing." -The Guardian

Cd Choice
Apart from the sheer beauty of his timbre, Padmore and his sympathetic accompanists have the full measure of Britten's genius, and the readings are unlikely to be bettered for years to come.

BBC Music Magazine
Padmore's singing is very loving indeed, but in places I can't help feeling that it's a case of 'less is more'. The Britten Sinfonia and instrumental soloists are admirably attuned to Padmore's approach...Padmore is more successful in the exquisite Dies Natalis, where a more extrovert approach really pays off.

Classical Music
Deeply intense, questing performance of two of Britten's great orchestral song-cycles, matched by the players with whom Padmore has rehearsed, workshopped and toured these works extensively. The Finzi is much more than just a filler...this is the masterly performance is deserves.

Gramophone Magazine
The sense of the poems across with extra immediacy, as if Padmore has read the texts many times over before fitting them to the music. There is much beauty - not perhaps in the purely vocal sense...but in the marriage of words and music...Highly recommended.

The Independent
[Padmore's] not found wanting in the "Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments & strings", in which he ably negotiates Shelley's reverie, Wordsworth's melodrama and Tennyson's "thunders of the upper deep"; the "Serenade for tenor, horn & strings" is equally impressive..."Dies Natalis", however, offers too stark a contrast to the otherwise elegaic tone.

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
Enter my 22nd recording of Serenade (30 if I count reissues) and 15th of Nocturne. This is my first encounter with the Finzi piece. Padmore continues his recording of the Britten song-cycles. One can only praise his silver timbre, his nimble agility in fast passages, his unquavering sustaining of notes, his uncanny interpretive ability. Stephen Bell's horn obbligatos are also worthy of the highest praise. His breath control is quite amazing. The Britten Sinfonia lives up to its name with superior accompaniments. The group gets to shine more in its own right in the Nocturne, with the variety of obbligato instruments and in the Finzi piece, as the ear is so caught up with the voice and horn in the Britten.

The Arts Desk, 16th June 2012
Padmore's new recording is terrific - his voice is expressive, beautiful and terrifying by turns...Bell's performance is spectacular...Padmore sings with such sweetness that you'll convince yourself that Finzi was an underrated genius.

MusicWeb International, August 2012
He sings with less of the honeyed beauty that he is famous for and more incisive bite, which works for some songs, such as the Dirge, but not so well for others, such as the opening Pastoral. However, this does have the advantage of lending his word-painting that extra edge...Both playing and singing are at their most alluring in the concluding Keats Sonnet, seductive and beautiful with a hint of danger, leading wonderfully into the softly dying horn epilogue.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: 02/2011.



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Works Details

>Britten, Benjamin : Serenade, for tenor, horn & strings, Op. 31
  • Performers: Stephen Bell (Horn); Mark Padmore
  • Conductor: Jacqueline Shave
  • Ensemble: Britten Sinfonia
  • Running Time: 23 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943

>Britten, Benjamin : Nocturne, Op. 60
  • Performer: Mark Padmore
  • Conductor: Jacqueline Shave
  • Ensemble: Britten Sinfonia
  • Running Time: 27 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1958

>Finzi, Gerald : Dies Natalis, cantata for soprano (or tenor) & string orchestra, Op. 8
  • Performer: Mark Padmore
  • Conductor: Jacqueline Shave
  • Ensemble: Britten Sinfonia
  • Running Time: 24 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1925-1939