Tenor, String orchestra
Serenade, composed in 1943, represents a return to English poetry after Les illuminations (in French) and Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (settings in Italian). Widely regarded as one of Britten's finest works, it is a tour de force for both singer and instrumentalists. The tenor is required to perform a whole range of musical styles and emotional states - from exuberant agility in 'Hymn' to snarling menace in 'Dirge' to tender melancholy in 'Elegy'; and the horn part (written originally for Dennis Brain) needs a similarly virtuosic player. Britten originally composed a further setting of Tennyons's 'Now sleeps the crimson petal', but discarded it from the cycle. It was later published as a separate song for tenor, horn and strings.
Audio extracts courtesy of Decca Classics. Peter Pears (tenor), Bary Tuckwell (horn), London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Britten.
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