29 Dec 2018

BRITTEN – Soirées musicales, Op. 9

by Michael Clive

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten

  1. March
  2. Canzonetta
  3. Tirolese IV. Bolero
  4. Tarantella


When Benjamin Britten reached into the past to collaborate with Gioachino Rossini, it was a match made not in heaven, but on staff paper. Outwardly, the two men could not have been more different: Britten, who had been ostracized much of his life, was wary of the public eye and guarded his privacy; Rossini was a master chef and bon vivant who enjoyed the perquisites of celebrity.

What they shared was musical wit. Rossini’s Italianate melodies were endlessly inventive; his driving rhythms and harmonic progressions were strict, even predictable. This combination offered the young Britten a perfect platform to create modern treatments that sparkled with sophistication and with a distinctive style like nothing that had been heard before, especially in their fresh harmonies. The English master was only 22 when he created a suite based on Rossini melodies for the film The Tocher. Soirées musicales is based in turn on that suite: five brisk, bright movements for orchestra. The suite is dedicated to the film director Alberto Cavalcanti, director of The Tocher.