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Haunted Loneliness

Orchestral music by
Benjamin Britten,
heard by

Fuga Libera    FUG534

Benjamin Britten - European Camerata. © 2007 European Camerata

Jean-Paul Minali-Bella is a viola player who graduated from the Paris Conservatoire. One of his teachers there was the instrument maker Bernard Sabatier, and one of his creations is the arpegina. This is a large viola with a distinctive tone colour that seems to combine those of the cello, viola da gamba and viola, thus coming close to the instrument designed by Viennese instrument maker Johann Georg Staufer in 1824, and called an arpeggione. It was also called the 'guitar violoncello' as it was intended as a bowed imitation of the guitar, with six strings and frets. It did not last long, surviving only because Schubert wrote a sonata for it. Sabatier's has five strings (a low E enriches the others) and stands a good chance of living much longer. It has certainly provided a good vehicle for Britten's Lachrymae -- Reflections on a Song of Dowland for viola and strings

Listen -- Britten: Lachrymae -- Reflections on a Song of Dowland
(track 12, 1:44-2:45) © 2007 European Camerata

and for the second of Two Portraits, a self-portrait written in 1930 -- a piece that even so early seems to embody his haunted loneliness exquisitely.

Listen -- Britten: E B B (Two Portraits)
(track 14, 1:28-3:10) © 2007 European Camerata

Laurent Quénelle, the leader and director of the European Camerata, produces an inspired performance of Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, as soloist in the Bourée Classique

Listen -- Britten: Bourée Classique (Op 10)
(track 6, 0:30-0:49) © 2007 European Camerata

and the orchestra shows superb blending and precision in the Moto Perpetuo.

Listen -- Britten: Moto Perpetuo (Op 10)
(track 8, 0:43-1:03) © 2007 European Camerata

There is also a lively, imaginative and delicate performance of the Simple Symphony.

Copyright © 8 March 2009 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK




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