Magazine article Gramophone

Britten: 'Peace and Conflict'

Magazine article Gramophone

Britten: 'Peace and Conflict'

Article excerpt

Britten DVD

'Peace and Conflict'

A film by Tony Britten

Capriol Films (F) DVD CAP08

(105' * NTSC * 16:9 * DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0)

This film by Tony Britten (no relation as far as I know) concentrates on the youthful background to the composer's pacifism, especially his years at the liberal Gresham's School in Norfolk. A major part of the story is re-enacted and invented (although closely based on fact and the composer's own diaries and letters) using actors on location. Among these, Alex Lowther's young Britten seems a first-rate choice, both visually and atmospherically. The collection of his school contemporaries--some, like the spy-in-waiting Donald Maclean, soon to be famous in their own right--are also sketched in in some detail. The narrative goes up to the composer's return to Britain from America but does not dwell too much on familiar Peter Grimes territory, focusing more on the traumatic memory of the composer's concert in (just) post-war Auschwitz with Elude Menu in.

The director's difficult work of making living fiction out of 'real' people is convincingly done. …

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