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Illuminating Britten

 14 April 2013 at 7.30pm 

Illuminating Britten

Wiltshire Music Centre
Bradford upon Avon
United Kingdom


Concert introduced by BCMG Artist-in-Association John Woolrich.

BCMG celebrates Britten’s centenary with a programme of early works, framing them with similarly small-scale pieces from composers with close connections to him.

Elegy for solo viola is an affecting, technically assured work, composed in a single day by the 17 year-old Britten. Crafted a year later, Going down Hill on a Bicycle is an experimental, almost Schoenbergian piece for violin and piano. Throughout his life Britten enjoyed writing for specific performers and composed his Phantasy Quartet, when just 19, for the leading English oboist of the day, Leon Goossens.

One the fascinating things about these early Britten works is that although beautifully crafted, they show Britten at a crossroads, before he knew what direction his music would take. His Suite for violin and piano from 1935 is more characteristically Britten, showing that at 21 the young composer had started to find his voice.

No composer mattered more to young Britten than Alban Berg, whose Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano are the composer’s only true miniatures. Oliver Knussen met and was encouraged by Britten when young, and Henze’s Olly on the Shore pictures BCMG’s Artist-in-Association standing on the same stretch of Suffolk shoreline that Britten called home. Copland’s smoky, blues-inspired Nocturne and ukulele pastiche Serenade date back to before he first met Britten at his home in Snape.

Alban Berg : Four Pieces Op. 5, for Clarinet and Piano
Benjamin Britten : Elegy for solo viola
Aaron Copland : Nocturne
Aaron Copland : Ukelele Serenade
Benjamin Britten : Going down Hill on a Bicycle (A Boy’s Song), for violin and piano (1931)
Oliver Knussen : Cantata Op. 15, for oboe and string trio
Hans Werne Henze : Olly on the Shore, for piano
Alban Berg : Adagio, for violin, clarinet and piano
Benjamin Britten : March, Lullaby and Waltz, three pieces for violin and piano from ‘Suite Op. 6’, for violin and piano
Benjamin Britten : Phantasy Quartet, for oboe and string trio

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