Britten (2013)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Candida Thompson

In 2013 it is exactly one hundred years ago that the English genius Benjamin Britten was born. Britten’s brilliant manner of writing for string orchestra, his unique treatment of text,and his rich repertory of musical colours a reall abundantly clear from the masterpieces featured on this recording.

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Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Amsterdam Sinfonietta is an ensemble of 22 gifted musicians who perform under the direction of Candida Thompson, artistic director|lead violin since 2003. The ensemble’s defining feature is the strong involvement and artistic drive of each individual member. The group has gained a reputation for distinguished, performances and innovative programming, often featuring surprising combinations of works. It collaborates with renowned artists and performs in major venues around throughout the world.

Founded in 1988 Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a highly respected ensemble with strong roots in the Dutch cultural scene. Every season it presents a series of concerts in the major concert halls of the The Netherlands. The orchestra boasts a young and loyal audience. Amsterdam Sinfonietta performs ingenious programmes featuring well-known repertoire combined with commissions, new arrangements or rarely performed works. Recent commissions include world premières of compositions by Sofia Gubaidulina, HK Gruber, Michel van der Aa and P?teris Vasks. Over the past seasons Amsterdam Sinfonietta has initiated and recorded new arrangements of various chamber music works. These include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schulhoff, Haas, Shostakovich and Berg.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta enjoys intensive collaborations with pre-eminent musicians. Guest artists such as Janine Jansen, David Fray, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Barbara Hannigan, Maxim Vengerov, Thomas Hampson, Sergey Khachatryan, Christianne Stotijn, Håkan Hardenberger, Martin Fröst, Julian Rachlin, Sol Gabetta, James Gilchrist, Natalia Gutman and Isabelle van Keulen have made return appearances with the orchestra.

Recently the ensemble toured China performing concerts with cellist Pieter Wispelwey. The group also performed spectacular performances with solo cellist Sol Gabetta at the Barbican in London, the Philharmonie in Luxemburg, Bozar in Brussels, the Musikhalle in Hamburg and the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The latest tour through Germany and Belgium with the French pianist David Fray was a resouding success culminating in ecstatic reviews. Following concerts in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf and the Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: ’For the chamber orchestra Amsterdam Sinfonietta, performing under the direction of Candida Thompson, the keyword is alertness. The 22 string players […] communicate with each other in a state of heightened awareness. Each player listens attentively to the others, to the counter lines and tonal colours. […] The result sounded fresh and modern – simply brilliant.’ The group has been a guest at many international festivals including the Adelaide Festival, Gergiev Festival, Schleswig Holstein Festival and La Roque d’Antheron and also appears regularly at the Holland Festival and in the Robeco Summer Series and Carte Blanche Series in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Every year the ensemble shows its versatility with a New Year’s programme that transcends the bounds of a conventional concert. This New Year’s programme has become a tradition attracting new and diverse audiences in many national venues. Joining forces with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Roby Lakatos, and Chick Corea has resulted in intriguing on-stage chemistry and compelling concerts. The orchestra also participates in multidisciplinary projects. Together with the Dutch-Italian choreographers Emio Greco & PC, the ensemble presented a theatrical production featuring a contemporary collage of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has also worked with the actor Jeroen Willems and stage director Pierre Audi in a programme centred on Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite. Upcoming projects include a Dessner-Greenwood double portrait featuring recent compositions by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame and Bryce and Aaron Dessner from the successful rock band The National. Other future projects include collaborations with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, baritone Thomas Hampson and clarinettist Martin Fröst and tours of Germany, Russia and China.

Candida Thompson

Candida Thompson artistic director and leader 

Candida Thompson studied with DavidTakeno at the Guildhall School of Music andDrama, where she received her soloist's graduationdiploma with honour. She developedher qualities further at the Banff Centre for theArts in Canada and played with several internationalorchestras such as Moskov ChamberOrchestra, The English String Orchestra,Wiener Symphoniker, the Netherland RadioChamber Orchestra and AmsterdamSinfonietta. Candida Thompson has been aregular guest artist at La Musica chambermusic festival in Florida. She also participatedat chamber music festivals like the KuhmoChamber Music Festival (Finland) and theGubbio Festival (Italy). In the past yearsCandida performed with artists such as BrunoGuiranna, Joseph Silverstein, Isabelle Faust,Janine Jansen. Together with cellist XeniaJankovic and pianist Paolo Giacometti sheformed the Hamlet trio. Candida Thompsonwas appointed Amsterdam Sinfonietta's artisticdirector and lead violin in the summer of2003. Under her leadership AmsterdamSinfonietta has made successful tours ofAustralia, the United States, China, Spain,Italy and Germany and has recorded a numberof highly acclaimed CD recordings.

Jasper de Waal

Jasper de Waal

Jasper de Waal is not only known as the beloved principle horn of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he is also a world class soloist, giving masterclasses and playing solo concertos and recitals around the world. He received his first instrumental lessons from his father. After winning various regional music competitions, he studied at theBrabant Conservatory with Herman Jeurissen, graduating in 1988. He continued his education at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, with Vicente Zarzo and received hisPerformance Degree in 1990. Soon after he became principle horn of the Residentie Orchestra The Hague. From 2004 until April2012 Jasper de Waal has been principle horn of the Royal Concertgebouw OrchestraJasper de Waal has performed as a soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,Edinburgh Chamber Orchestra, The HaguePhilharmonic, Concertgebouw ChamberOrchestra, Potsdammer Philharmonie with conductors such as Jevgeni Svetlanov, Jaap van Zweden, Alexandru Lascae, George Pehlivanian. Jasper de Waal’s first CD forChannel Classics, with horn concertos byJoseph and Michael Haydn with theConcertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, was extremely well received. As a guest teacher,Jasper de Waal is affiliated with theConservatory of Amsterdam, the RoyalConservatory in The Hague and the Fontyn Academy in Tilburg. He also taught in maste rclasses at the Guildhall School of Music, theConservatory of Amsterdam and Fundácion Excelentia in Madrid.•
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Britten (2013)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta

    The Wholenote

(...) Soprano Barbara Hannigan is in fine fettle here, singing very beautifully in excellent French while the virtuoso string orchestra blooms luxuriantly in the warm acoustics of Haarlem’s Philharmonie Hall. (...) a virtue for SACD fanatics.

The Wholenote

Barbara Hannigan, has been garnering great critical and public acclamation for her world-wide performances of ‘Les Illuminations’. She certainly comes to high expectations in this programme too. (…) With Candida Thompson’s lead, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta take to Britten’s virtuosic string orchestral accompaniments as if born to the music (...) An account of breathtaking acumen and skill from all participants. (...) Together Gilchrist and de Waal conjure up a marvellous, deeply contemplative and moving Serenade, certainly one to remember and treasure. (...) Channel Classics have got Britten’s Birth Centenary off to a racing start with this marvellous issue.

    Het Parool

Amsterdam Sinfonietta, aangevoerd door violiste Candida Thompson, speelt het allemaal op het hoogste niveau. (...) Sopraan Barbara Hannigan zingt bij vlagen bloedstollende hoge lijnen (...) Jasper de Waal speelt de hoornpartij ronduit magistraal (...) tenor Gilchrist weet de poëzie in het hart te raken. (...)

    Crescendo Magazine

Diese CD ist das reinste Vergnügen. (...) Candida Thompson versteht es, mit ihrem Kammerorchester die raffiniert abgemischten Klangfarben Brittens zu erwecken, Struktur und Ausdruck ins rechte Maß zu setzen und Britten als unverzichtbaren Klassiker der Moderne zu feiern.

    Sunday Times

Gilchrist's Serenade, with Jasper de Waal the stupendous horn soloist, is one of the best things the English tenor has done on disc - Pears-like in its intensity and crystalline diction. The Sinfonietta's strings have a whale of a time as a band of wannabe Paganinis in the Aria Italiana of the Bridge Variations.

    Positive Feedback

Gilchrist's rendering of the final Keats is breathtaking…

    Film Festival Traveler

Soprano Barbara Hannigan sounds exquisite in the lovelyIlluminations, tenor James Gilchrist and horn player Jasper de Waal wax lyrical throughout Serenade, and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta under Candida Thompson’s leadership give the Bridge Variations a great workout. The spacious surround sound underlines Britten’s orchestral writing genius. (...)

    International Record Review

the sonics are reliable sensational (...) there is an enormous amount of light, shade and real exhilaration in this finely honed contribution to Britten’s centenary celebrations.


De zoetgevooisde stem van Barbara Hannigan beweegt moeiteloos over het strijkorkest. (...) Amsterdam Sinfonietta speelt feilloos. Deze vier werken illustreren uitstekend wat voor smaakvolle, speelse en sensuele muziek Britten heeft geschreven.

    Audiophile Audition

The fine SACD sound on this disc adds a sensuality and tangibility that allows the listener to get inside the music, as if he/she were present when it was recorded. (...) There’s a palpability to the silences that magnifies the music’s emotional presence. This is thoughtful and and lovely music, ravishingly performed and recorded. Don’t miss it!

    Opus Klassiek

Dat het Amsterdam Sinfonietta zich in dit repertoire als een vis in het water voelt zal geen verbazing wekken, getuige de kwaliteit van de vele opnamen die het ensemble inmiddels op zijn conto heeft staan (...) Smaakvolle en vakkundige bewerkingen van de aan Amsterdam Sinfonietta verbonden bassist Marijn van Prooijen die in de uitvoeringspraktijk staan als een huis. (...) Jasper de Waal is een hoornist uit duizenden. (...)

    De Gelderlander

Amsterdam Sinfonietta gaat tot het uiterste in muzikale precisie en expressie. (...) De superieure audio-opname laat de geproduceerde boventonen glashelder horen.

    Presto Classical

Besides the excellent soprano Barbara Hannigan, who sparkles in ‘Les Illuminations’, tenor James Gilchrist and hornist Jasper de Waal deliver an impressive contribution to this production with Amsterdam Sinfonietta. (…) The orchestra herself indulges in all imaginable techniques, colours and dynamic extremes that Britten releases from his box of tricks for string orchestra.

Es ist eben die maximal motivierte Mitteilsamkeit dieser famosen Streichertruppe, die Benjamin Britten sich für seine Musik erträumt haben muss. Das Irisierende und Imaginative, das farbig fein Changierende, ja die schillernde „Ambience“ seiner hier immer wieder an den Impressionismus gemahnenden Werke – all das bringt die Amsterdam Sinfonietta mit edler Ekstase zum Klingen. (…) Das ist berückende, subtil süchtig machende Musik in sublimer Interpretation.

    Gapplegate Classical

These are energetic, expressive versions. The soloists are very good and the precise, matter-of-factness of Britten's original recordings contrasts with the exuberance of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta under Thompson. (…) The versions can stand side-by-side with the very best and hold their own, in their own way. Recommended.

    CBC Canada

The soloist here is the transcendent Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, who now lives in Amsterdam and has become the toast of the European new music scene. A regular with the Berlin Philharmonic with a growing reputation as a gifted conductor, Hannigan brings meticulous musicianship and complete command of the text to this performance. It's simply stunning, and a great way to get to know Benjamin Britten, up close and personal. Disc of the Week

Britten (2013)


Amsterdam Sinfonietta

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm A/D DSD / Meitner DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom design
Producer: Willem Bordes
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Leiden, Haarlem Holland 2013
Recording Software: Pyramix bij Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland

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32213: Britten
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - I. Fanfare
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - II. Villes
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - IIIa. Phrase
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - IIIb. Antique
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - IV. Royauté
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - V. Marine
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - VI. Interlude
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - VII. Being Beauteous
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - VIII. Parade
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Les Illuminations opus 18 (1939) for soprano and string orchestra - IX. Départ
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - I. Introduction and Them
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - II. Adagio
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - III. March
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - IV. Romance
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - V. Aria Italiana
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - VI. Bourrée Classique
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - VII. Wiener Walzer
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - VIII. Moto Perpetuo
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - IX. Funeral March
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - X. Chant
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Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge opus 10 (1937) for string orchestra - XI. Fugue and Finale
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - I. Prologue
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - II. Pastoral
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - III. Nocturne
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - IV. Elegy
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - V. Dirge
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - VI. Hymn
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - VII. Sonnet
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Serenade opus 31 (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra - VIII. Epilogue
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Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal (1943) for tenor, horn and string orchestra
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