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BRITTEN: 7 Sonnets of Michelangelo / Holy Sonnets of J. Donne / Winter Words (English Song, Vol. 7)

Composer(s):Britten, Benjamin
Artist(s) Bedford, Steuart, piano • Langridge, Philip, tenor
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Vocal
Catalogue 8.557201
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps

Britten’s song cycles form a substantial and important part of his work. The Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo belong to the period when Britten had begun to set foreign languages in an attempt to broaden his musical horizons. It is his first work composed exclusively for Peter Pears and deals with various aspects of love. Written in August 1945, soon after Britten had returned from a tour of German concentration camps with Yehudi Menuhin, The Holy Sonnets of John Donne captures some of the bleak intensity of that experience. In the eight settings of Thomas Hardy, Winter Words, written in 1953, there is no less abundance of the musical invention and imagery found in the earlier cycles, but the textures are generally leaner and more economical.


Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

Philip Langridge gives intense and dramatic performances of the three most important Britten song-cycles with piano, originally written with Peter Pears in mind. With Steuart Bedford, Britten’s long-term collaborator, as accompanist, this reading of the Donne sonnet-cycle is marked by high contrasts of dynamic and tone, so that one hears echoes of Peter Grimes’s music. In the other two cycles Langridge is just as expressive…Valuably, Langridge adds two more Hardy settings, originally intended for Winter Words


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