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Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998) is regarded, along with Benjamin Britten, as one of the most important British composers of the 20th century. He was well-known for his atheist, humanitarian and pacifist beliefs which, during the Second World War, caused him to serve a term in prison as a conscientious objector. He was also one of the first openly gay composers and quite politically active: all qualities of his personality that are reflected in his work. The earliest work in this set is the Concerto for double string orchestra which was one of Tippett's first successes and one of his most popular works. The years 1945-59, from which most of the works in this set come, might be regarded as the composer's middle-period, a time of great success and critical denigration: the opera The Midsummer Marriage attracted particular criticism, more for its obscure libretto (written by Tippett himself) than the music itself, which is among some of his finest. John Odgon's performance of the 1955 Piano Concerto is, arguably, the definitive performance of this work and is a fine tribute to a great pianist.
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