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Benjamin Britten’s

Song Catalogue

Nocturne

Tenor, Small orchestra

Composed as a companion piece to the earlier Serenade, the Nocturne revisits the nocturnal world of that work, though here the tenor solo is joined by seven solo instruments, each imparting a different tone colour to each setting. The full forces combine only in the final song, a lyrical setting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43, ‘When most I wink’. As he does in Serenade, Britten makes use of the English poetic tradition and sets verse by Tennyson, Keats and Shakespeare among others. But unlike the earlier work the piece is through-composed and there are no breaks as such between the numbers. Instead, a rocking, dreamlike string motif links each movement together.

Audio extracts courtesy of Decca Classics. Peter Pears (tenor); Barry Tuckwell (horn); William Waterhouse (bassoon); Osian Ellis (harp); Denis Blyth (timpani); Roger Lord (cor anglais); Alexander Murray (flute); Gervase de Peyer (clarinet); strings of the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Britten (1960).

Text Author
Various
Length
25 minutes
Language
English
Vocal Range
Publisher
Boosey and Hawkes
Type
Cycle
Voice Type
Tenor
Accompaniment
Small orchestra

Brittens Song Catalogue

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