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Kim Kashkashian, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Dennis Russell Davies - Lachrymae: Hindemith; Britten; Penderecki (1993)

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Kim Kashkashian, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Dennis Russell Davies -  Lachrymae: Hindemith; Britten; Penderecki (1993)

Paul Hindemith: Trauermusik; Benjamin Britten: Lachrymae;
Krzysztof Penderecki: Konzert für Viola und Kammerorchester
Kim Kashkashian, viola; Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 213 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 139 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: ECM | # ECM New Series 1506, 439 611-2 | Time: 00:50:03

This beautifully programmed CD presents three settings for viola and orchestra and a more eloquent statement about the beauty of the viola as an instrument would be hard to imagine (except for perhaps including Vaughan Williams' 'Flos Campi'). The viola finds that middle voice between violin and cello, a rich tone with a built in quality of mournfulness. That quality has inspired the works on this recording and the result is some of the more wistful music ever written. Dennis Russell Davies conducts the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra with the superb violist Kim Kashkashian.

Ellen Nisbeth, Bengt Forsberg - Let Beauty Awake: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Rebecca Clarke, Benjamin Britten (2017)

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Ellen Nisbeth, Bengt Forsberg - Let Beauty Awake: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Rebecca Clarke, Benjamin Britten (2017)

Let Beauty Awake: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Rebecca Clarke, Benjamin Britten (2017)
Ellen Nisbeth, viola; Bengt Forsberg, piano

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~316 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 186 Mb | Artwork included
Genre: Classical | Label: BIS | # BIS-SACD-2182 | Time: 01:20:19

Despite her youth, Ellen Nisbeth has received acclaim both in her native Sweden and abroad and is one of the Rising Stars selected by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) for the 2017/2018 season. A former student of London's Royal College of Music, she hails from a family of Scottish origin and feels a particular affinity for the landscapes of Scotland, and for the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. For her first recital disc Ellen Nisbeth has devised an all-British programme which includes her own transcriptions of selected songs from Songs of Travel – Ralph Vaughan Williams's settings of poems by Stevenson. The songs intersperse the remainder of the programme, and one of them – Let Beauty Awake – has also lent its title to the entire disc. Together with the eminent pianist and chamber musician Bengt Forsberg, Nisbeth goes on to perform the impassioned Viola Sonata composed in 1919 by Rebecca Clarke – a well-known piece among viola-players, but deserving of a wider audience.

Chamber Orchestra of Europe - Lachrymae - Music for Strings: Purcell, Britten, Part, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Tippett (2012)

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Chamber Orchestra of Europe - Lachrymae - Music for Strings: Purcell, Britten, Part, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Tippett (2012)

Lachrymae - Music for Strings: Purcell, Britten, Pärt, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Tippett (2012)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe; Nicolas Bône (viola)
Douglas Boyd, William Conway, Richard Egarr (conductors)

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 288 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 175 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Apex | # 2564 66070-5 | Time: 01:12:00

This CD is one of two Warner Classics recordings taped live during a series of concerts presented by the world renowned Chamber Orchestra of Europe during Easter Week 2003. The title for the concert series, presented in London, was Passions and Diversions as the works relate to different aspects of reflection and inspiration. In this program, Britten and Stokowski interpret works by Purcell in their own idioms; Britten draws on his English musical roots to inspire an original work, Lachrymae and Britten himself is the source of inspiration in Pärt’s Cantus. In the case of the Vaughan Williams, Tippett and Walton works, the inspirations are other composers and literature. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe has been described in The Financial Times as “the best orchestra in Europe.” The COE was founded in 1981 and has a membership of 50 musicians from 15 countries who perform together mainly in continental Europe and occasionally in the US and Japan. Since its inception, it has appeared with the world’s leading conductors and soloists, and its recordings have consistently won the highest praise and international prizes, including three Gramophone “Record of the Year” awards.

Otto Tolonen - Royal Winter Music: Hans Werner Henze; Benjamin Britten (2015)

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Otto Tolonen - Royal Winter Music: Hans Werner Henze; Benjamin Britten (2015)

Otto Tolonen - Royal Winter Music: Hans Werner Henze; Benjamin Britten (2015)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 226 Mb | Total time: 76:42 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Alba Records | # ABCD 382 | Recorded: 2014

Royal Winter Music by Hans Werner Henze (1926–2012) and Nocturnal after John Dowland by Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) were both inspired by the culture of Elizabethan England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries; more precisely, by the plays of William Shakespeare (1564–1616) and the music of lutenist-composer John Dowland (1563–1626). Henze and Britten both drew on tradition, and they shared a special liking for vocal music. They both composed a lot for the voice, and the guitar works on this release are likewise very lyrical in places.

Ida Haendel, Bournemouth SO, Paavo Berglund - Benjamin Britten & William Walton: Violin Concertos (1978/1992) [Re-Up]

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Ida Haendel, Bournemouth SO, Paavo Berglund - Benjamin Britten & William Walton: Violin Concertos (1978/1992) [Re-Up]

Benjamin Britten & William Walton: Violin Concertos (1978) Reissue 1992
Ida Haendel (violin); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Berglund

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 270 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 152 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI Classics | # CDM 7 64202 2 | Time: 01:02:27

Ida Haendel’s sinewy and athletic reading of the often under-rated Britten combines toughness with a cumulative dramatic impetus which is hard to resist. Berglund and the Bournemouth players respond with a terse and argumentative vigour, suitably balanced between resignation and defiant rhetoric, especially in the closing Passacaglia. The Walton Concerto, also dating from 1938-9, is played with an apposite blend of inscrutable panache, as in the irrepressibly brilliant central movement, and elsewhere, a sensuous, if occasionally over-indulgent languor. Rare lapses in the finale can be safely overlooked, in a performance of eloquence and undisputed stature.

Carolyn Sampson, Joseph Middleton - Fleurs (2015)

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Carolyn Sampson, Joseph Middleton - Fleurs (2015)

Carolyn Sampson, Joseph Middleton - Fleurs (2015)
Schumann, Britten, Purcell, Fauré, Gounod, R.Strauss, Schubert, Poulenc, Debussy, Boulanger

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 272 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 168 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical, Vocal | Label: BIS | # BIS-SACD-2102 | Time: 01:08:50

Those of us who rejoice in the crystalline beauty of Carolyn Sampson’s interpretations of Bach, Handel and Purcell will welcome this bouquet of songs on a floral theme, her debut recital disc. It’s been a long wait, but our patience is repaid handsomely. With pianist Joseph Middleton she savours some choice blooms from, among others, Britten, Chabrier, Schubert, Schumann, Gounod and Strauss, her glorious soprano particularly affecting in Fauré’s Le papillon et la fleur and the wonderfully perfumed Les roses d’Ispahan. Middleton plays with dextrous delicacy throughout and brings real virtuosity to Strauss’s Mädchenblumen. Highly recommended.

Li-Wei Qin, London PO, Zhang Yi - Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, William Walton: Cello Concertos (2014)

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Li-Wei Qin, London PO, Zhang Yi - Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, William Walton: Cello Concertos (2014)

Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto; Benjamin Britten: Four Sea Interludes
William Walton: Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (2014)
Li-Wei Qin, cello; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Zhang Yi, conductor

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 315 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 173 Mb | Scans ~ 92 Mb
Genre: Classical | Label: Decca | # 8896661 | Time: 01:15:26

An offering of two iconic British cello concertos, recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and distinguished cellist Li-Wei Qin, separated by an atmospheric and musically detailed recording of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes conducted by Zhang Yi.

Concertegbouw Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli - Barbirolli conducts Erik Satie, Benjamin Britten, Antonin Dvorak (2003)

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Concertegbouw Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli - Barbirolli conducts Erik Satie, Benjamin Britten, Antonin Dvorak (2003)

Erik Satie: Gymnopédies Nos. 1 & 3; Benjamin Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony #7 in D minor, Op. 70 (2003)
Concertegbouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; conducted by Sir John Barbirolli

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 352 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 168 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Testament | # SBT1252 | Time: 01:07:28

This is a fine Testament release taken from the archives of Netherlands Radio and enshrines some magnificent Barbirolli performances in somewhat opaque sound. The Satie Gymnopedie's have a delicate and loving sound that reveal Sir John's deep and intrinsic love for the miniaturistic charm of these enchanting pieces. Britten's 'Sinfonia da Requiem' was another Barbirolli speciality and this is one of many recordings available. However it is intriguing to observe the special attention and alertness that the Concertgebouw players impart to the music that takes on an added grandeur. However it is the Dvořák Seventh that is the real highlight of the disc as it is a version to die for! Sir John handles the music with real imagery and heart-on-sleeve emotion that almost rivals Kertész and Sejna, my other preferred versions in this landmark work.

Benjamin Britten - The Performer - The Complete Decca Recordings (27CD Box Set, 2013)

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Benjamin Britten - The Performer - The Complete Decca Recordings (27CD Box Set, 2013)

Benjamin Britten - The Performer - The Complete Decca Recordings (27CD Box Set, 2013)
MP3 CBR 320 kbps | Run Time: 31:17:35 | 4,41 Gb
Genre: Classical | Label: Decca

This set brings together for the first time Britten's complete Decca recordings as pianist and conductor in which he performs music by other composers - an astonishing variety of music that ranges from large-scale choral works by Bach and Purcell to Schumann and Elgar, as well as orchestral works by Mozart, Haydn and Schubert. Solo vocal repertory is generously represented with important works by Schubert and Schumann and early twentieth-century English song. Chamber music features Britten the pianist in partnership with two of Britten's closest collaborators: Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter.

Halle Orchestra, Kent Nagano - Benjamin Britten: The Rescue of Penelope; Phaedra (1996)

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Halle Orchestra, Kent Nagano - Benjamin Britten: The Rescue of Penelope; Phaedra (1996)

Benjamin Britten: The Rescue of Penelope; Phaedra (1996)
Dame Janet Baker, narrator; Alison Hagley, soprano; Catherine Wyn-Rogers, mezzo-soprano
John Mark Ainsley, tenor; William Dazeley, bass; Lorraine Hunt, soprano
Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 190 Mb | Scans ~ 89 Mb
Genre: Classical | Label: Erato | # 0630 12713-2 | Time: 00:51:10

Soon after his return from America, at the height of the war in 1943, Britten wrote incidental music for a radio play by Edward Sackville-West on the Homeric subject of Odysseus’s return to Penelope. Drawn from the complete score with barely any amendment of the original, and compressed into a 36-minute cantata, with Chris de Souza tailoring the text and Colin Matthews, Britten’s last amanuensis, most tactfully editing the music, the result is extraordinarily powerful. The most important role is that of the narrator, here masterfully taken by Dame Janet Baker who brings the story vividly to life despite the stylized classical language (e.g. “Odysseus, Lord of sea-girt Ithaca” or “His fair wife, white-armed Penelope”). Rather confusingly Athene also appears as a soprano, with the radiant Alison Hagley sounding totally unlike Dame Janet. She is one of a godly quartet of singers who contribute Greek-style commentaries – vocal passages which regularly add to the atmospheric beauty of the piece.

King's Singers - Royal Rhymes and Rounds (2012)

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King's Singers - Royal Rhymes and Rounds (2012)

King's Singers - Royal Rhymes and Rounds (2012)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 290 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 155 Mb | Scans included
Classical, Vocal Music | Label: Signum Records | # SIGCD307 | Time: 01:05:48

Royal Rhymes and Rounds is the King's Singers' contribution to the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne in 2012. There are ballads, part songs, madrigals, rounds, and anthems written during the reigns of (and some also in honor of) Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II. The music from the times of Henry and Elizabeth I is especially strong since it was the era of a flowering of English song, which then lay relatively dormant for several centuries. The composers include such luminaries as William Cornysh, Orlando Gibbons, John Dowland, and Thomas Weelkes, as well as Henry himself, whose rousing ballad Pastime with good companie opens the album. It's in this transparent repertoire that the group sounds its absolute best. The singers' immaculate intonation, focused tone quality, and sensitive musicianship are remarkable.

Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kent Nagano - Britten: Double Concerto; Two Portraits; Sinfonietta; Young Apollo (1999) [Re-Up]

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Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Kent Nagano - Britten: Double Concerto; Two Portraits; Sinfonietta; Young Apollo (1999) [Re-Up]

Benjamin Britten - Double Concerto; Two Portraits; Sinfonietta; Young Apollo (1999)
Gidon Kremer, violin; Yuri Bashmet, viola; Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano

EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 275 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Erato | # 3984 25502-2 | Time: 00:58:36

Kent Nagano and the Hallé continue to commit to CD less celebrated portions of the Britten canon. Last year there was the four-act Billy Budd; before that the premiere recording of a concert version of the radio drama The Rescue. Now come two more firsts, recordings of the Double Concerto - prepared from Britten's almost complete sketches by Colin Matthews and presented by Nagano at Aldeburgh in 1997 - and the Two Portraits from 1930. The second of these is a portrait of Britten himself, a surprisingly plaintive and reflective meditation for viola and strings in E minor. The image is belied by the rest of the music on the disc, which is buoyant, energetic, young man's music all written before Britten was 26. Big guns Kremer and Bashmet are brought in for the Double Concerto and give of their impassioned best. Nagano and the Hallé are appropriately spirited and vigorous throughout the disc. It's not mature Britten, but clearly points the way forward and is worth getting to know.

Anthony Lewis, The Baroque Opera Orchestra, Janet Baker - Handel: Admetus, King of Thessaly (2004)

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Anthony Lewis, The Baroque Opera Orchestra, Janet Baker - Handel: Admetus, King of Thessaly (2004)

Anthony Lewis, The Baroque Opera Orchestra, Janet Baker - Handel: Admetus, King of Thessaly (2004)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 530 Mb | Total time: 63:55+71:32+77:09 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Ponto | # PO-1029 | Recorded: 1968, 1969

For decades there has been only one recording of Admeto available: a quite splendid performance from 1977 (Virgin Records 5613692) directed by Alan Curtis with Il complesso barocco. One of the first baroque operas to be recorded with original instruments, it reflects the best of the historical performance movement. It is thus with considerable anticipation and curiosity that one approaches this new release of Handel’s Admeto, sung in English (to a fine translation by Geoffrey Dunn), directed by Sir Anthony Lewis, and recorded just nine years earlier in 1968. The cast for this recording is no less remarkable. Dame Janet Baker plays the self-sacrificing Alcestis; Admetus is sung elegantly and expressively by Maureen Lehane; Sheila Armstong is a brilliant and stylish Antigona, and the mezzo soprano Margaret Lensky provides a touching portrayal of the lovesick Thrasymedes.