Britten: Piano Concerto; Violin Concerto

Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 00:00


Britten Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto

Howard Shelley, Tasmin Little, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Gardner



The 25-year-old Benjamin Britten’s self-described “bravura” Piano Concerto of 1938 attracted early critical brickbats for its “angry blatancy,” “cleverness” and “errors of taste”. His 1939 “rather serious” Violin Concerto he felt at the time to be “without question my best piece”. Its concluding sombre passacaglia has long been seen as having links to the Spanish Civil War (the premiere was given by the Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa), and Howard Shelley now also sees premonitions of the second World War in the Piano Concerto. Shelley, offering both original and third movement, is breezy in a piece full of Prokofievian energy, Tasmin Little is altogether more romantic in the more deeply felt violin concerto.