‘The point of Britten’s conducting was never how he looked when doing it; instead it was about the sheer musicality he brought to the task…’
(Paul Kildea). The revelatory films presented on this DVD feature Britten with his favoured English Chamber Orchestra performing at two very different times of his life, with equal value.
Filmed at Christmas 1964, the main programme of Mozart’s Symphony No.40 and Britten’s own Nocturne shows a man in his prime. The Mozart was a particular favourite of Britten’s and his admiration for it certainly comes across in the performance. This DVD release is a major addition to his discography as the symphony was previously only available on LP.
The footage is modern in its approach and captures Britten close-up in a way that had not been seen before.
In the Nocturne, we see and hear Peter Pears in fresh voice, performing one of many pieces that were written for him, and which Britten and Pears had recorded four years previously. With this DVD we are able to see the closeness between composer and performer. An original review of the piece in Gramophone comments:
‘I cannot think of any settings of English words more imaginative than these of Britten’s.’
The bonus is a colour film from mid-1970, with Britten at home in Snape Maltings for a gala re-opening of the concert hall, performing Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ Symphony. The physical difference is clear to see, though all his trademarks are still in evidence and the quality of the music remains undiminished. It is of particular interest as it is the only known recording of this work with Britten.
This is the first release of this material on DVD.
Sound format: Enhanced Mono
DVD format: NTSC
Picture format: 4:3
Running time: 67’
Menu languages: English
Booklet languages: E/F/G
Region code: 0
Territory Restrictions: None
“from the very opening bars of the Mozart it's evident that the conductor is absolutely in control, delivering wonderfully instinctive melodic phrasing, and inspiring the English Chamber Orchestra to project tremendous rhythmic exhilaration in the Finale. The performance of the Nocturne is no less enthralling, with Peter Pears in excellent voice.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****