Scoring see also Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. Abbreviations (PDF).
Territory This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
World Premiere 10/15/1943 Wigmore Hall, London Peter Pears, tenor / Dennis Brain, horn / orchestral ensemble / Walter Goehr
Repertoire Note This masterly work was written for the combined musical talents of Peter Pears and Dennis Brain. Framed by a horn solo played on natural harmonics to evoke an atmosphere of far-off, primeval innocence, the Serenade is an extraordinary example of Britten’s ability to set an anthology of texts bound together by a similar theme, in this case, the world of night, sleep and dreams. The twilit atmosphere that characterizes this beautiful and evocative work is offset by the two settings that form its centrepiece, the ‘worm in the rose’ of Blake’s ‘Elegy’ and a nightmarish setting of the anonymous 15th-century ‘Lyke Wake Dirge’.
Recommended Recording Peter Pears, Dennis Brain, Boyd Neel Orchestra, Benjamin Britten Decca 4259962