<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson HOPE AND FEAR
At the start of World War II, Britten was in the States pursuing his essential personality
and a wider musical horizon. Thus the violin concerto was given its first performance by
Antonio Brosa in New York on 28 March 1940 with Barbirolli at the helm. The conductor was
increasingly exasperated that 'The stability and grit of our people are something hard
for them to realise here.' As a conscientious objector in his twenties, Britten was looked
at askance from England. The situation was well understood by Britten's publisher: the
violin concerto was turned down by the Royal Philharmonic Society, since 'Britten was
"unpopular" with them because of his domicile abroad!'
Daniel Hope is not only a violinist of superb accomplishment but is prepared to
enter territories where I might sometimes fear to tread. I rejoice when he cooperates
with Ravi Shankar in an 'East meets West' project and resuscitates Ravel's 'Luthéal',
the instrument he recommended to accompany Tzigane and used again in
L'enfant et les sortilèges. I wish he'd forget about jazz and try
teaching some young Palestinians to play as well as he does. It is entirely
commendable, though, that he wholeheartedly champions new music and performs with
authority such modern classics as these concertos. The now stateless Berg was not above
some Viennese sleaziness in the Allegretto of Part I
[listen -- track 1, 5:01-6:05].
Rather than quote whatever balm a Bach chorale might bring to that tormented period,
I prefer the tumultuous rage that begins Part II
[listen -- track 2, 0:01-1:10].
Copyright © 13 August 2004
Robert Anderson, London UK