Monday, 18 November 2013

Britten 100 BBC Radio 3 this week

Benjamin Britten and the BBC : the first, ground breaking co-operation between a composer and mass media. Britten believed that serious music could communicate to ordinary people, and the BBC helped bring Britten to the masses, fulfilling its remit to "educate, entertain and inform". Sadly, far too many political and social factors have shifted the market downwards. But still we can remember the ideal.  You could travel to Aldeburgh this week, where there will be many activities, such as mass sing alongs  or you could avoid the crowds and listen on BBC Radio 3. For the offerings on TV (even more interesting ) please see here.

On Britten's birthday (Friday 22nd November), Oliver Knussen will be conducting the keynote concert at Snape Maltings :"unmissable with its combination of the rarely heard, well-known and new."  which means Britten: Cantata Academica,  Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes, Ryan Wigglesworth: Locke's Theatre (world premiere) and Britten's early, glorious Spring Symphony. My review of that is HERE ("Unorthodox Symphonitst"

On Saturday 23rd, two  more LIVE transmissions. First at  1755, the cantata St Nicolas from Aldeburgh Parish Church. Singers include the Jubilee Opera Chorus, Aldeburgh Voices, The Suffolk Ensemble, Ben Parry (conductor) with Alan Oke is the main role. This will be special because it's "local", featuring people who live in and around Aldeburgh, in keeoing wiuth Britten's ideas on music being part of community life.  Second,  LIVE transmission, this time from the Barbican : Britten's Albert Herring.  My review of it is HERE Albert Herring, Pickled

And on Sunday 24th, Noyes Fludde from Lowestoft. Although I love that opera, it's one that really needs to be experienced live. Created for children, everything rests on the process of performance not on the results.  (Read about the excellent Blackheath Noyes Fludde here).

Also worth listening to are performances of Britten String Quartets and Cello Suite (10 pm Friday and Saturday and at 11 pm recordings of Britten playing Schubert and conducting Bach and Haydn (with Rostopovich). Hopefully, there won't be much "presenting" to kill the music.Lots of talk shows, too, if that's your thing.

Top recommendation last : All three Church Parables, recorded in June at Orford Church - Curlew River, (Saturday 1400). This was infinitely truer to Britten's intentions than the disappointing Barbican St Giles's performance last week, much better musically informed and more dramatically incisive. Also, James Gilchrist as the Madwoman was outstanding, even better than Bostridge, which is saying something. Please read my review here.  On Sunday 1400, The Burning Fiery Furnace (reviewed here) and on Monday  26th 1400 The Prodigal Son.

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