Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings - Nocturne. Finzi: Dies Natalis (2012)

Britten, Finzi

Britten Sinfonia

Jacqueline Shave

Celebrated tenor Mark Padmore joins with Britten Sinfonia in some of the most beautiful English music for voice and orchestra. The centrepiece is Benjamin Britten's magical evocation of twilight and nightfall, the Serenade (with Stephen Bell, horn). In Gerald Finzi's song-cycle Dies Natalis, the ecstatic mood reflects a child's wide-eyed wonder at the world. Britten's poignant Nocturne completes the programme.

Mark Padmore et le Britten Sinfonia propose ici quelques-unes des plus belles pages de la musique anglaise pour voix et ensemble. La Sérénade de Benjamin Britten allie la voix au cor pour sonder l'atmosphère instable du rêve, ce sur quoi surenchérit son Nocturne, consacré au motif du "crépuscule" chez quelques grands poètes anglais, de Shakespeare à Wordsworth. Le programme est complété par la cantate Dies Natalis de Gerald Finzi qui s'attache aux vers d'un poète du XVIIe siècle, Thomas Traherne, évoquant la joie simple et naïve d'un enfant ébahi par sa découverte du monde.

Mark Padmore und die Britten Sinfonia präsentieren einige der schönsten Werke der englischen Musik für Stimme und Orchester. In seiner Serenade fügt Benjamin Britten dem Gesang noch eine elegische Hornmelodie hinzu, um uns in eine geheimnisvolle Traumwelt zu entführen, atmosphärisch hierin noch überboten von seinem Nocturne, das dem Andenken der großen englischen Dichter von Shakespeare bis Wordsworth gewidmet ist. Das Programm wird von Gerald Finzis Kantate Dies Natalis ergänzt, die auf Verse von Thomas Traherne zurückgreift. Der Dichter des 17.Jahrhunderts beschwört darin die einfache und naive Freude eines Kindes, das staunend die Welt entdeckt.

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Britten Sinfonia

Britten Sinfonia is one of the world’s most celebrated and pioneering ensembles. It is praised for the quality of its performances and an intelligent approach to concert programming that is centred around the development of its players. Unusually it does not have a principal conductor or director but chooses to collaborate with a range of the finest international guest artists from across the musical spectrum as suited to each particular project. Founded in 1992, it is inspired by the ethos of Benjamin Britten through world class performances of the highest quality, illuminating and distinctive programmes where the old meets the new, and projects in the local community as well as in the world’s finest halls.

The orchestra is an Associate Ensemble at the Barbican in London where it presents a major concert series each season. Britten Sinfonia also has residencies in Cambridge (where it is the University’s Orchestra-in- Association), Norwich and Brighton. The orchestra presents an award- winning chamber music series at London’s Wigmore Hall and regularly performs at many important European festivals including the BBC Proms. Britten Sinfonia’s international profile is blossoming with frequent touring throughout Europe and South America. The orchestra is a BBC Radio 3 broadcast partner and records regularly.

Britten Sinfonia is proud to work with many of the world’s re- nowned performers and composers. Central to the orchestra’s artistic vision is a strong commitment to new music, encompassing numerous commissions by composers based in the UK and abroad. The orches- tra’s Creative Learning projects are also at the heart of Britten Sinfonia’s work. These range from pre- and post-concert talks and performances, to schools projects, coaching, master-classes and professional development opportunities for businesses.

Britten Sinfonia recordings have been Grammy® nominated and have received a Gramophone Award. The orchestra has received many other distinctions, including two prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in 2007 and 2009.

Mark Padmore

Mark Padmore was born in London, grew up in Canterbury and studied at King’s College, Cambridge, graduating with an honours degree in music. He has established an international career in concert, opera, and recital, and his performances in Bach’s Passions have gained particular notice throughout the world. He has appeared at many of the world’s leading opera houses (including the English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne, La Monnaie, and The?a?tre du Cha?telet) and in concert with the Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonic orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the London Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

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Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings - Nocturne. Finzi: Dies Natalis (2012)

Britten, Finzi

Britten Sinfonia

    Music Web International

Britten Sinfonia: they match their soloist’s sensitivity and finesse throughout and introduce his performance with a poetic and accomplished rendition of ‘Intrada’. Their contribution to all three works on this disc is superb..." "The three acutely sensitive performances on this disc have been captured in sound that is expertly balanced and very clear. The booklet is beautifully produced. In short, this is a release that exudes quality".

John Quinn

    The National

British tenor Mark Padmore also did the honours for Benjamin Britten with a powerful, sensitive performance of the composer’s unforgettable, eerie Serenade and Nocturne, put out by Harmonia Mundi.

Feargus O’Sullivan

    The Absolute Sound

Sensitively inflected without ever seeming over-refined or fussy, The accompaniment by Jacqueline Shave is equally nuanced, with superb contributions of soloists on horn, bassoon, harp, timpani, English horn, and clarinet assuring the full effect of Britten's richly expressive scores.. a recording that's intimate and immediate, tracing the subdest dynamic gradations of singer and instrumentalists..."

Andrew Quint

    Positive Feedback

Top 10 Favorite CD's for 2012

    San Jose Mercury News

BEST OF 2012 7. Mark Padmore, Britten Sinfonia: "Benjamin Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings" (Harmonia Mundi). As Britten's 2013 centennial approaches, we'll hear more and more of the British composer's works. Start celebrating with this bracing and lovely piece, featuring tenor Padmore, whose technical range -- and range of expression -- is astonishing. Peter Pears (for whom Britten composed the Serenade) would be proud. Jacqueline Shave leads the intimate ensemble performance.

    Opera News

Padmore sings the Nocturne so expertly that he takes the focus off himself and keeps it on the music. He brings an enraptured, intoxicated quality to the solo line

William R. Braun

    San Jose Mercury News

As Britten's 2013 centennial approaches, we'll hear more and more of the British composer's works. Start celebrating with this uniquely bracing and lovely piece, featuring tenor Padmore, whose technical range -- and range of expression -- is astonishing.

Richard Scheinin

    American Record Guide

One can only praise [Padmore's] silver timbre, his nimble agility in fast passages, his un- quavering sustaining of notes, his uncanny interpretive ability. Stephen Bell’s horn obbligatos are also worthy of the highest praise. His breath control is quite amazing. The Britten Sinfonia lives up to its name


    BBC Radio 3

‘It’s so sensitively, eloquently sung and played from beginning to end, and having the Finzi following the Britten was an excellent idea.’

Andrew Mellor


What really struck me was, for example in the Britten Serenade, that you hear not just individual words of the song or individual phrases, you hear entire sentences and I believe you understand the poems behind these cycles far better with Padmore perhaps than almost any other singer.

Richard Fairman


Some of Padmore's best singing and interpretation... an energetic and straightforward performance... an inventive program well done, and will repay further listening.

Alan Swanson

    PS Tracks

Britten used some of the greatest poetry in the English language to create these settings, so the fun comes from all sides if you’ve got good performers. And these are great performers… Padmore’s unique voice fits these settings like a glove, and his interpretations seem utterly right...

Laurence Schenbeck

    BBC Music Magazine -

Mark Padmore is an outstanding performer. Anyone who's seen, as well as heard, him... will know how his facial gestures and physical movements add to his already abundant musicality and radiant vocal tone... The Britten Sinfonia and instrumental soloists are admirably attuned to Padmore's approach... A recording with insights...

    Financial Times

"It was high time Mark Padmore, one of our most thoughtful tenors, set down his interpretation of the 'Serenade'...a mysterious spell is cast, not least in the Keats-inspired finale. Padmore is equally refined in the “'Nocturne.'”

Andrew Clarke

    The New York Times

Pears’s 1944 recording with the great Dennis Brain playing horn and Britten conducting the Boyd Neel String Orchestra is a classic. Now Mr. Padmore’s, with the horn player Stephen Bell and Jacqueline Shave conducting the Britten Sinfonia, takes an honored place beside it.

Anthony Tommasini

    The Buffalo News

his voice is delicate and arresting...

Mary Kunz Goldman

    The Arts Desk

Mark Padmore’s new recording is terrific - his voice is expressive, beautiful and terrifying by turns. Finzi’s unforced melodic gifts are balm after 50 minutes of death-haunted Britten, and Padmore sings with such sweetness that you’ll convince yourself that Finzi was an underrated genius.


Padmore ‘s warm vibrato sounds handsome in Finzi’s sweeping, majestic Dies Natalis...

Steve Holtje

    CD Choice

Apart from the sheer beauty of his timbre, Padmore and his sympathetic accompanists have the full measure of Britten’s genius, and the readings are unlikely to be bettered for years to come.

Barry Forshaw


superb recording"Padmore is such an intelligent and tasteful singer that it’s impossible not to be swept away by his performances. Comparisons with Pears are inevitable. Padmore’s voice is, to my ears, more vocally secure and attractive than the older tenor’s.""Stephen Bell nails the fiendish solo horn part in the Serenade..."."The sound quality is brilliantly state-of-the-art with Padmore and the ensemble perfectly and naturally balanced. This is world-class singing of music that will yield tremendous rewards with patient, quiet listening. Superb."

Craig Zeichner

    Positive Feedback

Padmore confronts the music, stands up to it, giving us more passion, less suggestiveness... and more variety... His performance of the Keats, is probably the best single Britten performance I've ever heard.

Bob Neill

    Audiophile Audition -

This is quite simply a stunning album in spectacular surround sound that should be required listening for Britten and Finzi fans, as well as converting a whole host more. Usual fantastic HM production values along with full texts provided.

Steven Ritter

    Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

Padmore is impeccable, the Britten Sinfonia detailed and expressive and the recording bright and well-staged in full sound dimension.

Grego Applegate Edwards

The new reference recording for these masterpieces from Benjamin Britten

Matthew Richard Martinez


tenor Mark Padmore’s newest release on Harmonia Mundi. Padmore’s previous recordings of Schubert cycles (chief among them a haunting, essential, Winterreise recorded with Paul Lewis in 2009) and Britten works have made him one of the hottest art song commodities around, blessed as he is with a balance of right-brained intellect and left-brained sensitivity when it comes to his keenly-picked material.

Olivia Giovetti


the wait has been worth it. These performances of the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings and the Nocturne are of the utmost sensitivity, skilfully accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia and recorded with tremendous presence...

Richard Fairman

    International Record Review

These are beautiful and perceptive performances, rewardingly matching poetic insight to musical understanding.

John Warrack

Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings - Nocturne. Finzi: Dies Natalis (2012)

Britten, Finzi

Britten Sinfonia

Producer: Robina G. Young
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel
Recording location: Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London.
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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HMU907552: Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn & strings - Nocturne. Finzi: Dies Natalis
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Prologue
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Pastoral - Cotton
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Nocturne - Tennyson
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Elegy - Blake
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Dirge - Anonymous, 15th C.
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Hymn- Jonson
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Sonnet - Keats
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Serenade for tenor, horns and strings, Op. 31 - Epilogue
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - On a poet's lips I slept - She
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - Below the thunders of the uppe
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - Encinctured with a twine of le
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - Midnight's bell goes ting, tin
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - But that night when on my bed
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - She sleeps on soft, last breat
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - What is more gentle than a win
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Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments and strings, Op. 60 - Whn most I wink, then do mine
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Dies Natalis, Op. 8 - Intrada
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Dies Natalis, Op. 8 - Rhapsody - Recitativo stromentato
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Dies Natalis, Op. 8 - The Rapture - Danza
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Dies Natalis, Op. 8 - Wonder -
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Dies Natalis, Op. 8 - The Salutation - Aria
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