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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDH55225
Recording details: November 1995
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: May 1996
Total duration: 12 minutes 49 seconds

Lachrymae, Op 48a
composer
'Reflections on a song of Dowland' (If my complaints could passions move); arranged for viola and string orchestra in 1976; based on Op 48 for viola and piano, written in 1950 for William Primrose who gave the premiere with Britten in Aldeburgh in 1950

Lento  [1'56]
Animato  [1'08]
Tranquillo  [1'29]
Largamente  [0'30]
Appassionato  [0'45]
Allegro marcia  [0'41]
Lento  [0'40]
L'istesso tempo  [1'53]
A tempo semplice  [1'12]

Other recordings available for download
Lawrence Power (viola), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
While working on Billy Budd in the first half of 1950 Britten broke off from the opera to compose Lachrymae, his only mature piece for viola and piano, for the distinguished viola player William Primrose whom he had met the previous year when touring the United States. Primrose gave the first performance at the 1950 Aldeburgh Festival with the composer at the piano. Twenty-five years later, in the last year of his life, Britten orchestrated the piano part for strings to create a concertante piece, Op 48a, for Cecil Aronowitz, another distinguished violist and close professional colleague.

Lachrymae is a series of variations on the first phrase of Dowland’s song ‘If my complaints could passions move’. Following a Lento introduction in which the song is quoted in the bass of the piano part, a sequence of contrasting ‘reflections’ ensues. In the sixth, Appassionato, Britten quotes from another Dowland song, ‘Flow my tears’. The last section returns by means of a slow crescendo to Dowland’s original melody and harmony, when it is heard complete for the first time. Britten’s exploration of the Dowland material is extremely thorough, and it generates not only the principal melodic material but the harmonic vocabulary as well. Such is its organic resourcefulness that the techniques used in Lachrymae are reminiscent of the exhaustive musical derivations to be found in the Church Parables of the subsequent decade.

from notes by Philip Reed © 1996


Other albums featuring this work
'Britten: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto & Lachrymae' (CDA67801)
Britten: Violin Concerto, Double Concerto & Lachrymae

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