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Britten - String Quartets, Vol.3

Composer Benjamin Britten
Performer Emperor String Quartet
Period Modern
Catalogue Number BIS-1870 SACD
EAN 7318599918709
Format SACD Hybrid

This hybrid disc plays on both CD and SACD players
SACD Surround - SACD Stereo - CD Stereo

Release date Jul 2014
Total time 74'36

Final disc in the series

On two previous, highly acclaimed discs the British Emperor Quartet have released Benjamin Britten's three numbered string quartets. Their performances of these undisputed masterpieces of 20th-century chamber music have been variously described as 'stupendous' (Classic FM Magazine), 'a wonderful homage' (Ensemble), and 'a complete cosmos of colours and nuances' (Fono Forum), and the two discs have received top marks and distinctions in magazines such as Fanfare, Diapason and International Record Review. For the final disc the quartet have gathered five works from the composer's earliest period, from the String Quartet in F, by a fourteen-year old schoolboy, to Simple Symphony, composed six years later and the work which may be regarded as his breakthrough. As discussed in the insightful liner notes by the musicologist Arnold Whittall, these compositions demonstrate how the young Britten developed a personal style of his own. The influence of his teacher Frank Bridge was important, but so was his own growing interest – fanned by radio broadcasts – in the music of impressionist and neo-classical composers, as well as Bartók and Schoenberg. In 1930 such influences prompted what remains one of Britten’s most intensively progressive works, the Quartettino. Aged sixteen, Britten himself was probably uncertain of the reactions the work might receive: it seems that he never showed it to any of his composition teachers, and the 16-minute piece in three movements remained unperformed and unpublished until after his death. In his Phantasy for string quintet and in Simple Symphony, composed for either string orchestra or quartet, Britten retreated somewhat from the terse language of the Quartettino, and after Simple Symphony, he only returned to the quartet medium in order to compose the three numbered quartets, in 1941, 1945 and 1975.
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  Benjamin Britten
  Simple Symphony, Op.4 (1933–34) 15'34
01 I. Boisterous Bourrée 2'51
02 II. Playful Pizzicato 3'10
03 III. Sentimental Saraband 6'40
04 IV. Frolicsome Finale 2'53
05 Rhapsody (1929) 7'26
  Benjamin Britten
  Quartettino (1930) 16'15
06 I. Andante – (attacca) – 6'19
07 II. Poco adagio ma con moto 6'34
08 III. Allegro molto vivace 3'22
09 Phantasy in F minor for string quintet (1932) 11'02
  Benjamin Britten
  String Quartet in F (1928) 22'12
10 I. Allegro vivace e con brio 8'37
11 II. Andante 2'53
12 III. Allegro vivace 4'24
13 IV. Allegro molto 6'18
  Album total 74'36
ComposerBritten, Benjamin
EnsembleEmperor String Quartet

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