For Benjamin Britten’s hundredth birthday, Peter Walls looked at the composer’s life and music over two programmes: the first considers a range of Britten’s works; the second is devoted to opera.
Britten struggled with his perceived place in British musical tradition, as Peter Walls puts it, with "the anxiety of influence - a fear of being categorized as the new arrival in a line of British composers." He pushed against the work of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Ireland, but found a mentor in Frank Bridge.
It was when in California, in 1941, that Britten first read George Crabbe's poem, Peter Grimes. At that moment he realised he belonged in Britain, in Suffolk, where, like Crabbe, he'd been born.
BRITTEN: Sinfonietta, 3rd mvt - Nikolai Lugansky (pno), Lyn Fletcher (vln), Dara de Cogan (vln), Tim Pooley (vla), Peter Worrall (cello), Hallé Orch (Erato 3984 25502)
BRITTEN: Violin Concerto mvt 1 - James Ehnes (vln), Bournemouth SO ( Onyx 4113)
BRITTEN: Albert Herring - City of London Sinfonia/ Richard Hickox (Chandos CHAN 10036)
BRITTEN: Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge - ASMF/ Neville Marriner (London 421 391)
BRITTEN: M05 Night Mail, mvt 3 - M931 - Simon Russell Beale (narrator), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (NMC D 112)
BRITTEN: M06 Michelangelo Sonnets, No XXXI - Peter Pears (ten), Benjamin Britten (pno) ( Decca 425 996)
BRITTEN: M07 Lacrymosa from Sinfonia da Requiem - CBSO/ Simon Rattle ( EMI CDS 7 54270)
BRITTEN: Still falls the rain - Ian Bostridge (ten), Timothy Brown (horn), Julius Drake (pno) ( Virgin 5 45525)
BRITTEN: Dies Irae, from War Requiem - Christine Brewer (sop), Anthony Dean Griffey (ten), Gerald Finley (bar), Tiffin Boys' Choir, London Philharmonic Choir & Orch ( LPO 0010)
BRITTEN: M11 Serenade, Hymn - Peter Pears (ten), Dennis Brain (horn), Boyd Neel String Orch (Decca 425 996)
BRITTEN: M12 Fugue, from Young Person's Guide - E849 - Celia Craig (cor anglais), Bournemouth SO/ Hickox (Chandos CHAN 9221)
BRITTEN: M13 quartet 3, mvt 5 - 2181 - Sorrel Quartet (Chandos CHAN 9469)