BRITTEN Benjamin, Sinfonietta Op.1

1. Poco presto ed agitato
2. Variations: Andante lento
3. Tarantella: Presto vivace

Britten was already a very prolific composer by the time he gave this work its designation as his official Opus One. Dedicated to his teacher, Frank Bridge, it was written when Britten was 18 years old, and it already demonstrates his extraordinary imagination. The influence of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony is apparent in places, and the instrumental writing in all three movements has a fluency and flamboyance that quickly became hallmarks of the young Britten’s music. The first public performance was given on 31 January 1933 at the Mercury Theatre, London, in one of the Macnaghten-Lemare concerts played by the English Wind Players and the Macnaghten String Quartet, conducted by Iris Lemare. Britten’s music has always been more enthusiastically received abroad, and on 7 August 1933, the Sinfonietta was broadcast on Radio Strasbourg, conducted by the great Hermann Scherchen. The first British broadcast was a month later, by members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Clark.

© Nigel Simeone 2013

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