Thursday, August 02, 2007

Britten and Stravinsky - after the flood


Finally the rains have stopped, and summer has arrived in East Anglia. Photographs taken this morning as I cycled out of our village.

Benjamin Britten's wrote Noye's Fludde here in East Anglia, and it was first performed at the 1958 Aldeburgh Festival. It is Britten's most substantial work for children, and is based on one of the 16th century Chester Mystery Plays using an edition by Alfred W. Pollard. The main vocal parts are written for children, with the exceptions of the adult parts of Noye himself, Noye’s wife and the Voice of God. Noye's Fludde is scored for strings, recorders, bugles, handbells and a range of percussion, and also calls for home-made instruments including sandpaper blocks and slung mugs. Every CD collection should include the definitive 1961 recording made in Orford Church.

Igor Stravinsky wrote the musical play The Flood in California to a commission from CBS television. The libretto is a compilation of texts by Robert Craft from the Book of Genesis and the Chester Mystery Plays. The Flood, with choreography by Balanchine, was premiered in June 1962 as a CBS telecast, and received a hostile press reception. The composer's own recording, made in Hollywood in March 1962 for the telecast, is included in the newly released Works of Stravinsky, which also should be in every CD collection.


Now take the same path to Spring Symphony.
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2 comments:

Pliable said...

Writing the path is well rewarded by emails, and discoveries, like this:

Speaking of children and floods : an often overlooked work is Aaron Copland's children's opera The Second Hurricane. Well...it's more an opera for teens,
nevertheless....

It's often given short shrift, but I have a feeling that's due to Bernstein's recording. Whenever he narrates for children, he sound patronising. It's a good work nonetheless.

Britten's Noye's recording was recently on my iPod. I NEVER download from online. The quality is still crap. So I gleefully rip from my own CDs.

Really love that Britten recording, as well as his Lets make an opera.

Cheers
David Cavlovic

Thanks David, and don't forget The Little Sweep.

sfmike said...

I had the opportunity to hear a Canadian group do Noye's Fludde at a small downtown San Francisco church as part of the United Nations 50th Anniversary celebration in that city. As great as the Britten recording is, it really doesn't approximate how thrilling the piece is live, with its finale of brass played from the top of the church with the entire audience joining in for the final chorus. An amazing piece of theatre-cum-liturgy.

Stravinsky's "Flood" I heard once live with the San Francisco Symphony, and I most emphatically didn't get it.