Around Britten

Barley’s centenary Britten tribute to preview his tour

Author: 
Caroline Gill

Around Britten

  • Suite No. 3
  • Greensleeves
  • (The) Salley Gardens
  • Tre Laude Dolce
  • Since She Whom I Loved
  • Thrinos
  • Chant (1995)
  • Choral Dances from 'Gloriana', Concord
  • Improvisation
  • Oliver Cromwell

This disc is a distillation of the pieces Matthew Barley is taking on his 100-date tour this year to celebrate Britten’s 100th birthday. Although it doesn’t include the pieces he has commissioned from James MacMillan and Dai Fujikura, it nevertheless centres round a single piece in the same way the concerts will – Britten’s Third Cello Suite.

As always, Barley’s playing is fearless. The disc is a voyage around the cello as well as around Britten, and one that never becomes relentless. In his Improvisation, there is skilfully woven reference to the profusion of styles in which he plays: Ukrainian folksong, jazz and, of course, tonal experimentation of the type that is so noticeable in the Britten suite and that plays such an important role in its final movement, the ‘Kontakion’ which, alongside the pieces Threnos and Chant by John Tavener, reflects on the death of close friends. There are five tracks that are Barley’s own arrangements of accompanied pieces, which he multitracked at home. Particularly well chosen for this purpose, and beautiful in its execution, is the choral dance ‘Concord’ from Britten’s opera Gloriana – a movement whose need for sustained sound and line has overpowered many a choir (professional as well as amateur) and which sounds new-born here with the warmth of the cello. The high point, though, is Barley’s arrangement of Britten’s setting for voice and piano of John Donne’s poem ‘Since she whom I loved’. Even without the words, Barley has managed to capture – and further amplify – its great sadness and isolation.

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£64/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£64/year
Subscribe
From£64/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£64/year
Subscribe
From£64/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£64/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2017