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Benjamin Britten’s

Song Catalogue

Les Illuminations

High voice, String orchestra

The vivid and fantastical poetry of Arthur Rimbaud forms the basis of one of Britten's most full-blooded and exciting song cycles. Britten frequently challenged himself in setting not only unusual texts in English but by tackling the poetic flavours and sounds of other languages. Composed for the Swiss soprano Sophie Wyss, this cycle contains movements dedicated to Britten's former love, Wulff Scherchen, and new love, Peter Pears (tellingly, the movement 'Being Beauteous') and was largely composed once Britten and Pears had arrived for their two-year stay in North America.

Audio extracts courtesy of Decca Classics. Peter Pears (tenor); English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Britten (1967).

Text Author
Arthur Rimbaud
Length
25 minutes
Language
French
Vocal Range
Publisher
Boosey and Hawkes
Type
Cycle
Voice Type
High voice
Accompaniment
String orchestra
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