Britten : Nocturne for tenor,7 obbligato instruments and stringsBerlin, 2011 (Audio)
Director: Simon Rattle
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60, is a song cycle by Benjamin Britten.Premiered in the Leeds Town Hall at the centenary Leeds Festival on 16 October 1958 by Peter Pears and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Rudolf Schwarz,it is his fourth and final orchestral song cycle, after Our Hunting Fathers (Op. 8, 1936), Les Illuminations (Op. 18, 1939) and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (Op. 31, 1943). It is dedicated to Alma Mahler.
The theme of the piece, as its name Nocturne suggests, is sleep and darkness, both in the literal and figurative sense. In this respect, the work is reminiscent of Britten's earlier Serenade. Unlike Serenade, Nocturne is presented as a continuous piece rather than separate movements. This is emphasised by a number of figures which occur throughout, most notably the 'rocking'string motif which opens the work. The conflicting tonal relationship between C and D-flat is also evident throughout, reflecting the contrast between the untroubled and the more perturbed aspects of sleep which are also described by Britten's choice of poems.
The seven obbligato instruments for which the piece is scored are flute, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, harp, French horn and timpani.