I am unfamiliar with most of Britten's oeuvre. I seen his violin concerto and War Requiem performed live, and while both were riveting, I have come to love the violin concerto, while the War Requiem is not something I imagine myself listening to often. What more along the lines of the violin concerto should I explore?
My choir is singing the War Requiem in April.
Two other concertante works works investigating are the early Double Concerto for violin, viola and orchestra (Kremer, Bashmet and the Halle Orch. conducted by Kent Nagano) and the string orchestra arrangement of the Lachrymae (after a song by Dowland) for viola and piano (Tomter and the Norwegian Chamber Orch. conducted by Iona Brown).
The War Requiem... Never a favorite, it seems, but a purposeful and powerful piece. There were opinions many years back that its appeal would fade if nuclear war were no longer an overriding concern, but I don't think this has happened. Does anybody here favor this music?
The Sinfonia Da Requiem, Violin Concerto, and Four Sea Interludes are my current three favorites. It is possible this would change with greater familiarity with his work.
I also recall greatly liking one of his String Quartets, possibly his 2nd.
Could somebody, on a slightly different note, recommend me some of Britten's conducting catologue? Intrigued as I was with his Brandenburg concertos, which is the first recording under his baton I heard, they now rest, together with Furtwängler's and Klemperer's Brandenburgs, on the pile of 'interesting but ultimately not very durable performances'. I have his own recording of his War Requiem, which was a significant upgrade from the others I heard, though admittedly only in fragments. Is the Decca 7-CD collection of him conducting his own works worthy of purchasing?
As for his own compositions, I don´t really have enough versions/listening experience to compare them. But overall they seem fine, with enough sentiment, well-integrated, and with good sound. Peter Pears is prominent in many of the vocal works and technically sings OK, but the character of his voice isn´t my cup of tea; most would disagree with my taste there, though. Hickox/ASV seems more dramatic in the Bridge Variations, but still Britten is OK (or more) there too.
Decca 10 CD box, Britten conducts Britten (includes 2 CDs for War Requiem).
Decca/London Britten PC, VC, with Richter, Lubotsky.
Decca/London Britten orchestral.
Decca/London Mozart Symphonies.
Decca Mozart PCs 20 & 27 w. Curzon.
BBC Legends Mozart PC 27 w. Richter.
Last edited by Vaneyes; Mar-16-2013 at 00:16.