"O sounds and visions !"
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Benjamin Britten wrote many of his compositions for his life long partner, tenor Peter Pears, and "Les Illuminations" is my favorite of these pieces. Written in 1939, it's melodic and passionate, and set to Arthur Rimbaud's exquisite series of prose poems. Though the booklet insert has a translation of these poems in a rather literal manner, I highly recommend the Louise Varese translation (amazon ISBN 0811201848). The music and poetry are intertwined in this piece, and the book will add much to the love of the music."Serenade" was written in '43, set to poems by Tennyson, Blake, Keats, Johnson and Cotton, with the horn (wonderfully played by Michael Thompson), adding mystery as it contrasts with the voice. Track # 4, "Elegy", is moody and gorgeous...perfect for Blake's dark and fiery words."Nocturne" was written in 1958, and gives us the Britten of a different era. More modern, sometimes percussive, and without the melodic content of the first two pieces, its complexity took me several hearings to win me over, and fully appreciate its beauty. It's set to poems by Shelley, Tennyson, Coleridge and Middleton, and it's an intense, terrific piece.Adrian Thompson may not have the clean, pure sound of Peter Pears, but he comes close, and his interpretations have an emotional quality that goes straight to the heart. He has a powerful voice, and sings with a fervor that especially lends itself to "Les Illuminations".
If you like Britten, this budget priced CD, at nearly 70 minutes long, is a great addition to a 20th century vocal music collection."