BRITTEN TO AMERICA (NMC D190)
What better way to mark the end of Britten's centenary than release some unrecorded works, the majority of which haven't been heard since they were performed in the 1940s. This is Britten with a difference - there are large sections of blues, jazz, a 'Tibetan' chant, a Bach chorale and even a ukulele number!
Britten made the hazardous journey from the United States back to England in the spring of 1942. Within a few weeks he had faced a Tribunal exempting him from military service as a conscientious objector. In his statement to the Tribunal he had said “I believe sincerely that I can help my fellow human beings best, by continuing the work I am best qualified to do”, and almost immediately he began giving concerts with Peter Pears in towns, rural villages and prisons. He also wrote three major scores for radio propaganda programmes: first Appointment, a BBC drama set in an internment camp in France: then An American in England, six programmes about wartime conditions in England produced by the BBC for live transmission in the USA by CBS; and lastly Britain to America, three programmes as part of a weekly transmission by NBC. The last of these was completed by January 1943; in spite of the speed with which they were written, the music is elaborate and dramatic – the composer is clearly limbering up for Peter Grimes, whose libretto was evolving during this period.
Samuel West, narrator
Andrew Kennedy, tenor
Jean Rigby, mezzo soprano
Mary Carewe, mezzo soprano
Ex Cathedra / Jeffrey Skidmore, conductor
Huw Watkins, piano
Hallé / Sir Mark Elder, conductor / Harry Ogg, assistant conductor
Download your free copy of Britten's rediscovered song Roman Wall Blues here
Britten to America is released December 9 PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE