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Britten, Benjamin: Les Illuminations op. 18 (1939) 21'
for high voice and strings

Music Text

Arthur Rimbaud (F)

Abbreviations (PDF)

Territory

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World premiere complete

30/01/1940
Aeolian Hall, London
Sophie Wyss, soprano / Boyd Neel Orchestra / Boyd Neel

Repertoire Note



Britten continued his imaginative exploitation of string orchestra sonorities begun in the Frank Bridge Variations with these exhilarating settings of poems by Arthur Rimbaud, begun in Suffolk in March 1939 and completed a few months later in the USA. Originally written for soprano Sophie Wyss, the work can, and often is, performed by a tenor: Britten first performed the piece with Peter Pears as early as 1941. The work has been successfully choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton and Richard Alston.

Recommended Recording

Peter Pears, English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten
Decca 4363952

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