Britten Songs

Warner Classics: 4334302

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Britten Songs


Presto Disc of the Week

29th April 2013

Gramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2013

Catalogue No:




Release date:

22nd April 2013




69 minutes


CD (download also available)
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Britten Songs


Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

Sir Antonio Pappano (piano)

Six Hölderlin Fragments, Op. 61

Sir Antonio Pappano (piano)

Winter Words, Op. 52

Sir Antonio Pappano (piano)

Songs from the Chinese, Op. 58

Xuefei Yang (guitar)

Who are these children?, Op. 84: Four English Songs

Sir Antonio Pappano (piano)



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This release is one of three new recordings issued in 2013 by EMI & Virgin Classics in honour of Britten's 100th birthday. Ian Bostridge, the internationally acclaimed tenor whose "attention to the text always matches Britten's own scrupulous word-setting", has recorded this album of songs by Benjamin Britten accompanied by Antonio Pappano. Featured are works he has never before recorded: 'Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo', 'Hölderlin Fragments', 'Songs From the Chinese', 'Winter Words' and Four English Songs from the last cycle 'Who are These Children?'.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Benjamin Britten: Winter Words Op. 52

1. At Day-close in November

2. Midnight on the Great Western (or The Journeying Boy)

3. Wagtail and Baby (A Satire)

4. The Little Old Table

5. The Choirmaster's Burial (or The Tenor Man's Story)

6. Proud Songsters (Thrushes, Finches and Nightingales)

7. At the Railway Station, Upway (or The Convict and Boy with the Violin)

8. Before Life and After

Benjamin Britten: Michelangelo Sonnets Op. 22

Sonnet XVI Si come nella penna e nell'inchiostro

Sonnet XXXI A che piu debb'io mai l'intensa voglia

Sonnet XXX Veggio co' be' vostri occhi un dolce lume

Sonnet LV Tu sa' ch'io so, signior mie, che tu sai

Sonnet XXXVIII Rendete a gli occhi miei, o fonte o fiume

Sonnet XXXII S'un casto amor, s'una pieta superna

Sonnet XXIV Spirto ben nato, in cui so specchia e vede

Benjamin Britten: Six Hölderlin Fragments Op. 61


Die Heimat

Sokrates und Alcibiades

Die Jugend

Hälfte des Lebens

Die Linien des Lebens

Benjamin Britten: Who are these Children? Op. 84, Four English Songs

No. 3 Nightmare

No. 6 Slaughter

No. 9 Who are these children?

No. 11 The Children

Benjamin Britten: Songs from the Chinese Op. 58

The Big Chariot (from The Book of Songs)

The Old Lute (words: Po Chü-i)

The Autumn Wind (words: Wu-ti)

The Herd-Boy (words: Lu Yu)

Depression (words: Po Chü-i)

Dance Song (fom the Book of Songs)

Ian Bostridge discusses Britten's Michelangelo Sonnets with Presto Classical's Katherine Cooper

Financial Times

20th April 2013

“an intoxicating contribution to the composer’s centenary.”

Sunday Times

19th May 2013

“the English tenor has brought special qualities to Britten on disc: his cut-glass diction and an individuality of timbre that echoes the singer for whom the composer wrote most of his songs, his life partner, Peter Pears, without remotely resembling he proves as compelling as this music’s creator”

Gramophone Magazine

June 2013

“besides his usual intelligence and personality, Bostridge has acquired a richness of timbre that, combined with his control of vibrato, is invaluable in the Six Hölderlin Fragments...[Songs from the Chinese] becomes an unexpected highlight.”

The Guardian

30th May 2013


“all of these are very fine performances, which at least match and in some cases better Pears's own recordings with Britten. Bostridge and Antonio Pappano define the sharply different characters of the three great cycles here quite superbly.”

BBC Music Magazine

July 2013


“[Bostridge] has surely done nothing finer than this immaculately recorded new release. He is superbly partnered by Antonio Pappano, whose balancing of textures and beauty of touch sometimes surpass - dare it be said? - Britten's own essential addition to the Britten discography.”

International Record Review

June 2013

“[in Winter Words] the singer seizes every opportunity the words offer for brilliant characterization...Such fine attentional is characteristic of the entire recital...Yang is, like Pappano, no mere accompanist but an admirable partner to a contribution to the Britten centenary this indispensable disc may conceivably be equalled - but it will certainly not be bettered.”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper

29th April 2013

“The combination of Bostridge and Pappano is nigh-on ideal [in the Michelangelo songs], with Pappano’s big-boned, virile pianism providing the perfect foil for Bostridge’s distinctive plangency...The other cycles on the disc are equally rewarding.”

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