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Illuminating Britten

 18 May 2013 at 7.30pm 

Illuminating Britten

CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Berkley Street, Birmingham, B1 2LF
United Kingdom
0121 767 4050
http://www.bcmg.org.uk

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Oboe: Melinda Maxwell
Clarinet: Joanna Patton
Piano: Malcolm Wilson
Violin: Alexandra Wood
Viola: Christopher Yates
Cello: Ulrich Heinen
Introduced by BCMG Artist-in-Association John Woolrich



BCMG celebrates Britten’s centenary with a programme of early works, framing them with similarly small-scale pieces from composers with close connections to him.

Elegy for solo viola is an affecting, technically assured work, composed in a single day by the 17 year-old Britten. Crafted a year later, Going downhill on a bicycle is an experimental, almost Schoenbergian piece for violin and piano. Throughout his life Britten enjoyed writing for specific performers and composed his Phantasy Quartet, when just 19, for the leading English oboist of the day, Leon Goossens.

One the fascinating things about these early Britten works is that although beautifully crafted, they show Britten at a crossroads, before he knew what direction his music would take. His Suite, for violin and piano from 1935, is more characteristically Britten, showing that at 21 the young composer had started to find his voice.

No composer mattered more to young Britten than Alban Berg, whose Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano are the composer’s only true miniatures. Oliver Knussen met and was encouraged by Britten when young, and Henze’s Olly on the Shore pictures BCMG’s Artist-in-Association standing on the same stretch of Suffolk shoreline that Britten called home. Copland’s smoky, blues-inspired Nocturne and ukulele pastiche Serenade date back to before he first met Britten at his home in Snape.



Alban Berg : Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano
Benjamin Britten : Elegy
Aaron Copland : Nocturne and Ukelele Serenade
Benjamin Britten : Going downhill on a bicycle
Oliver Knussen : Cantata
Hans Werner Henze : Olly on the shore
Alban Berg : Adagio
Benjamin Britten : Suite
Benjamin Britten : Phantasy Quartet
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