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Britten, Benjamin: Serenade op. 31 (1943) 24'
for tenor, horn, and strings

Music Text

various (E)

Scoring

see also Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Abbreviations (PDF)

Territory

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

World Premiere

15/10/1943
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

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