Britten Orchestral Song Cycles
Quatre Chansons Françaises, Op.posth
Our Hunting Fathers, Op.8
Les Illuminations, Op.18
Had Britten written nothing else besides these orchestral song-cycles, he would surely be acclaimed a great composer, for they distil the essence of his unique skills as a writer for the voice, a master of instrumentation and—most important—as a genius at setting poetry. To hear them all at one sitting demonstrates his development from the raw invention of the recently published Quatre Chansons Francaises and Our Hunting Fathers, through the central three works for high voice, to the bleak, etiolated sounds of Phaedra.
All these facets of the pieces are made manifest in these superb performances for the now sadly defunct Collins Classics Britten edition, masterminded by Steuart Bedford, the composer's most faithful disciple among performing artists. While throughout following Britten's intentions to the letter, he manages to imprint his own interpretation on to each cycle, basically a taut, fine-grained, spare style that, with the help of the mostly well balanced and spacious recordings, allow us to hear even more detail of the scores than do the excellent Decca versions with the composer on the podium.
CDs in EXCELLENT condition; booklets and jewel case both VERY GOOD.