Magazine article Gramophone

Britten: Simple Symphony, Op 4

Magazine article Gramophone

Britten: Simple Symphony, Op 4

Article excerpt

Britten Simple Symphony, Op 4. Rhapsody. Quartettino. Phantasy in F minor (a). String Quartet in F Emperor Quartet with (a) John Metcalfe va BIS [F] [SACD]. BIS1870 (75' * DDD)

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This release follows on from two earlier Britten discs by the Emperor Quartet on BIS (A/10, 12/13), which together comprise the composer's complete works for string quartet. With the three mature quartets having already appeared, the final volume turns to youthful works, all composed between 1928 and 1934, though it is no less interesting for that. An obvious attraction is the popular Simple Symphony, making a rare appearance performed by solo strings (though the Britten and Maggini Quartets have recorded it in the past). With the Emperor Quartet's quick reactions, the piece takes on a new guise in this intimate form, at once spikily alive in the outer movements and confiding of private secrets at the heart of the 'Sentimental Saraband'.

Each of the other items is worth investigating. …

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