St Christopher

Britten’s Serenade
Event 12
Saturday October 19th, 8.00pm 
Little Missenden Church

Britten and Finzi masterpieces
David Matthews
Three birds and a farewell
Gerald Finzi
Dies Natalis, op8
Richard Rodney Bennett
Chelsea Reach
Benjamin Britten
Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, op31

This is an archived event from the 2013 Programme.

Robert Murray tenor  Joe Walters horn  sound collective string orchestra  Tom Hammond director

This concert presents two truly outstanding English vocal works.

For a long time we’ve wanted to programme the magical Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, one of the finest works from Britten’s pen - but we hesitated. Could we afford it? Could we squeeze all the musicians on to our small stage space?  We’ve now taken the plunge in honour of Britten’s 100th birthday.

Written for Peter Pears and Dennis Brain, the enduringly popular Serenade is a marvellous evocation of twilight and darkness – its peace and enchantments, but also its terrors. The sonority of the horn complements the voice wonderfully.  Britten is further explored in Event 4, Event 9 and Event 10.

“One of the masterpieces of 20th-century English music" said the Guardian of Dies Natalis. Gerald Finzi’s setting of Thomas Traherne expresses the wonder and delight of a new-born child experiencing its strange new world.  Finzi has crafted a pure and rapturous cantata, spinning long and flowing lines of melody over rich string textures.  Quintessential Finzi, not to be missed.

The concert opens with a brief appetiser, David Matthews’ Three birds and a farewell.  It’s a little gem, an “irrepressibly charming suite for string orchestra” (Guy Dammann, Guardian), evoking the blackbird, cuckoo and song-thrush – and closing with a ‘Goodnight song’.

The late Richard Rodney Bennett’s Chelsea Reach is another small delight – an arrangement from Playford’s English Dancing Master, a 17th century collection of popular tunes for country dancing.

Robert Murray is one of our leading tenors, on the recital platform and in the opera house.

“He has now firmly established himself as one of the finest of the younger generation of Lieder singers, able to stand comparison with anyone in Europe or America” (Melanie Eskenazi, Seen and Heard International)

His voice is ideal for Britten – he’s recently sung Bob Boles in the Aldeburgh Grimes on the Beach, and Essex in the Hamburg State Gloriana.

Formed in 2003, sound collective has already given two memorable performances at the Festival.  It gathers exceptional classical musicians, hand-picked from the British orchestral, chamber and freelance scene – and has drawn exceptional responses from audiences and critics.  Tom Hammond is its Artistic Director, a Fellow in Conducting at Keele University, and  a guest conductor for Trinity Laban Conservatoire and the Palestine Youth Orchestra.  Tom's help in enabling us to mount this concert has been invaluable.

The highly talented Joe Walters walks here in the footsteps of Dennis Brain.  He’s an outstanding horn player, one of the UK’s busiest, playing regularly with a wide range of both period and modern ensembles like l'Orchestre Romantique et Revolutionnaire, Europa Galante, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Philharmonic, and the Royal Philharmonic – so he’s at home with the modern horn and all its predecessors.


Click for more information on tonight's performers: Robert Murray, Tom Hammond and sound collective.

Concert sponsored by Alan Hedges
In memory of Michael Cox