Britten: Les Illuminations / Gauvin, Violon Du Roy

Album cover art for upc 722056260121
Label: ATMA
Catalog: ACD22601
Format: CD

Karina Gauvin - soprano, Les Violon du Roy, Jean-Marie Zeitouni - conductor

Benjamin Britten: Les Illuminations, op. 18, Prelude and Fugue for 18-part String Orchestra, Op. 29, Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Wholenote Discoveries - October 2010
The Quebec City-based baroque chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy has been broadening its repertoire to include the 20th century in recent years under the direction of Jean-Marie Zeitouni. For their latest venture into the modern era they are joined by soprano Karina Gauvin in a crystalline performance of Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations. Britten’s setting of the poetry and prose of Arthur Rimbaud with its dynamic contrasts and dramatic range is fully realized by this outstanding soloist, sensitively accompanied by the strings. The disc includes convincing, full-bodied performances of the Prelude and Fugue for 18-part String Orchestra, Op.29 and Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op.10. Gauvin rejoins the ensemble for the final track, the rarely heard Now sleeps the crimson petal, a movement Britten originally intended for the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op.31 but discarded before that work’s first performance. The words by Alfred Lord Tennyson are set as a gentle barcarole with the voice in duet with the horn effectively provided by Louis-Philippe Marsolais. This is a timely release for Toronto audiences who will have the opportunity to experience Britten’s Death in Venice in Canadian Opera Company performances from October 16 to November 6. David Olds

Gauvin and Les Violin du Roy team up on a superb disc of Britten Chamber and Orchestral Works!
Following their recordings devoted to Piazzolla and to Bartók, Jean-Marie Zeitouni and Les Violons du Roy now turn their attention to one of the dominant musical figures of 20th-century England, Benjamin Britten.
Britten was living in Amityville, Long Island, when he finished the song cycle Les Illuminations, based on poems and prose by Arthur Rimbaud. For this new recording of one of Britten’s most effective works, soprano Karina Gauvin employs the full range of her expressive palette and great virtuosity. Ms. Gauvin also sings ‘Now sleeps the crimson petal,’ a poem by Alfred Tennyson set to horn accompaniment.
Also on this CD are two works for string orchestra: Prelude and Fugue, Op. 29, which Britten composed when he was 30, and the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10, which he wrote in homage to one of the English composers he most admired.

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