Wednesday, 5 June 2013

10. Britten Violin Concerto

Benjamin Britten

This post features a wonderful performance of the excellent, if little known, violin concerto by Benjamin Britten.

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. This year marks the 100th year since his birth. His most popular works include the educational orchestral piece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and the Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes. Less well known, is the violin concerto, which is excellently played here by Janine Jansen (see youTube video below).
The concerto comprises of three movements, as follows:
1. Moderato con molto
2. Vivace
3. Passacaglia; Andante Lento

Benjamin Britten Violin Concerto Janine Jansen Paavo Jarvi

I am always pleased when a little known or under-appreciated work finds a new champion. In this case Janine Jansen is an ardent admirer of the Britten violin concerto, having championed the work for more than 10 years. She is doing wonderful things to promote and increase awareness around this marvellous piece. I have seen some criticism to the seemingly inappropriate or illogical coupling of the Beethoven and Britten violin concertos. My view is that coupling a popular work with a less popular one, does wonders for promoting the merits of the latter. The end result being renewed interest and enthusiasm for the latter work.

Janine manages to elicit sounds from her violin which are powerful and gritty in parts, bold and sonorous in the lower registers, yet soulful and yearning in the high registers. The Britten violin concerto is played with such commitment and conviction that I'm sure it will convert and win many new admirers. Already a Britten fan? Let me know your favourite Britten composition in the comments below.

Links to the recording (tracks 4-6):
 Amazon

Beethoven & Britten: Violin Concertos - Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Janine Jansen, London Symphony Orchestra & Paavo Järvi USA Store

Beethoven & Britten: Violin Concertos - Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Janine Jansen, London Symphony Orchestra & Paavo Järvi UK Store



Below is the first movement played by Janine Jansen conducted by Daniel Harding:

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