- Sea Interludes (4) from Peter Grimes, for orchestra, Op. 33a
- Cello Symphony, for cello & orchestra, Op. 68
- Gloriana, symphonic suite for tenor (or oboe) & orchestra, Op. 53a
Other than perhaps Shostakovich, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich likely had more of an influence on composer Benjamin Britten than any other. Through their friendship and working relationship, Britten eventually composed a sonata with piano, three suites for solo cello, and the "Cello Symphony." This last work began as a concerto, but Britten soon realized that the prominent role the orchestra played was far greater than the mere accompaniment usually found in most concertos. The intricate dialogue and turn-taking worked into the score turned out to be one of the composer's only symphonic works that was not originally part of an opera and later lifted as a suite. The most famous and frequently played of these suites is the "Four Sea Interludes" from the opera "Peter Grimes." Another suite was taken from the initially ill-received "Gloriana" rounds out this Chandos disc. The BBC Philharmonic is led by conductor Edward Gardner in three performances of the utmost technical precision and refinement of sound. So much so, however, that despite the near perfection of the playing, the music itself often sounds sterile and aloof. Listeners after a reliable, accurate reading of the score will not be disappointed here, but those after a bit more reckless abandon in the "Storm Interlude" or solemn beauty in "Gloriana"'s "Moritura" may be somewhat of a letdown. For his part, cellist Paul Watkins brings the same level of technical brilliance, but also a good deal more heart, risk-taking, and musical poignancy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This collection of Britten's Orchestral Works is fantastic! The Symphonic Suite for Gloriana is a beautiful orchestra suite with some sung arias from the opera. The BBC philharmonic is the perfect ensemble to interpret these pieces, as it is quite melodic and quintessentially British. The Cello concerto is a bit more modern and strident, but again has the attractive rhythmic characteristics of Britten that make it delightful to listen to. The final piece is the famous Four Sea Interludes. It is truly one of the greatest 20th century pieces ever written. The interludes do remind one of the sea, but I don't consider them to be only programmatic, as their fascinating rhythms and dance-like melodies are a joy to listen to.