Ian Bostridge, Peter Donohoe, Elisabeth Söderström, Robert Tear, Sir Thomas Allen / Berliner Philharmoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle
Benjamin Britten: An American Overture Op. 27; Ballad of Heroes Op. 14; Diversions for piano (left hand) and orchestra Op. 21; The Building of the House - Overture Op. 79; Suite on English Folk Tunes: 'A time there was...' Op. 90; Canadian Carnival Op. 19; Young Apollo Op. 16; Quatre Chansons françaises (1928)Scottish Ballad Op. 26; Occasional Overture Op. 38; Sinfonia da Requiem Op. 20; Les Illuminations Op. 18; Serenade for tenor, horn and strings Op. 31 (1943); Nocturne Op. 60 (1958); War Requiem Op. 66; The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell Op. 34; Russian Funeral
Sir Simon Rattle, the former percussion and conducting wunderkind is celebrated this month by the release of two budget collections on EMI Classics. This 5 CD set finds him exploring the music of fellow countryman Benjamin Britten. Included here is the towering War Requiem, the three great song cycles (Les Illuminations, Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, and Nocturne), and the eternal favourite The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.
In April 2009, EMI Classics releases two Simon Rattle Editions: one each consisting of works by Igor Stravinsky and Benjamin Britten.
On the face of it one would have thought that there was little in common between Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), two interesting facts prove otherwise. Britten, born in Lowestoft in Suffolk on 22nd November (St. Cecilia’s Day), had already and studied with Frank Bridge by the time he went to Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk, in September 1928. The Master in charge of music on meeting him remarked “Oh, you’re the boy who likes Stravinsky!" Today that remark might be considered a compliment, at that time Stravinsky was reviled as THAT composer who had perpetrated the outrage called “The Rite of Spring" fifteen years earlier. The funeral service for Stravinsky, who died on 6th April 1971 in New York, was held as he had requested in Venice nine days later and he was laid to rest near his friend and ballet impresario, Serge Diaghilev, on the Island of San Michele. Britten, too, had a great love for Venice as can be heard in his last opera based on Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice". Both composers are also high on Sir Simon Rattle’s list of favourite composers. In 2003 he and his Berlin Philharmonic gave workshops and a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring to the city’s disadvantaged children and as a past Artistic Director of Britten’s beloved Aldeburgh Festival he has conducted many of his works including a number of those that had been found after the death of the composer.The box of Britten contains besides the three great song cycles (Les Illuminations, Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings and Nocturne) the “War Requiem", “Sinfonia da Requiem", the ever popular “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra" and the most remarkable set of songs written in French when he was 15, “Quatre Chansons Françaises".