Saturday, March 18, 2023

Benjamin Britten + Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes"


(Lowestoft, 22 November 1913 - Aldeburgh, 4 December 1976)

Student of Ireland and Benjamin at the Royal College of Music in London, he was very precocious as a composer, soon imposing himself on the attention of the English public as one of the most gifted musicians of the young generation.

After a three-year stay (from 1939 to '42) in the United States, he resumed his activity in England by acquiring international fame in 1945 with the work - the first he wrote for the theater - Peter Grims.

Intensely dedicated to the composition, he also kept numerous tours as a piano companion of the tenor Peter Pears; He founded the English Opera Group, a small opera company that brought Britten's works to many British centers, mainly designed for a popular or youthful audience and also performed with makeshift means, according to the principles of "Gebrauchsmusik."

Very fruitful composer, Britten has been considered the most prominent English author of his century for over two decades. He has been able to merge the most diverse experiences in an eclectic language, which has gradually been personalized thanks to a strong instinct and a profound awareness of the need to enhance the rich English musical tradition. In fact, in a certain period of his activity, he gently absorbed the juices that came from the musical experiences of the European musicians, from Hindemith to Stravinski, to Bartok. He achieved the brightest results in the theatrical field: 'Peter Grimes' and 'the vine lap' remain the best works produced in England last century, perhaps by Purcell's time.

The symphonic production is undoubtedly in order concerning the theatrical one (which includes about ten works, from the chamber work and for children to the sacred representation). Here, an eclectic trend is denied, the absorption of influences mainly from Stravinski and the tradition of French Impressionism. However, Britten has also been able to create some living work in this field, full of humor and fantasy. In the middle of the century, the Britten Muse seems to languish, so much so that it is perhaps not risky to say that its most convincing production stopped in 1954 with the turn of lives: is it a momentary crisis or a definitive unwary of its inspiration? Here is a question that only Britten will have answered with his work as a composer. Among its lucky compositions, the Requiem of war must be mentioned (1961).

There are four instrumental songs from Britten's theatrical masterpiece, Peter Grimes. The marine atmosphere of the romantic and harsh coasts of Eastern England is reproduced to you exemplary, with a timbre procedure that sometimes recalls that of impressionism but which is nourished by an all-personal and unmistakable sound sensitivity.

The four short songs represent "the dawn," "Sunday morning," "Moonlight, "and" Storm, "and must be considered between better Britten has conceived for the orchestra alone.