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Ben Johnson, tenor
James Baillieu, piano
Christopher Ainslie, countertenor
Benedict Nelson, baritone
Martin Owen, horn
Lucy Wakeford, harp

Opus Arte OACD9012


The Canticles

As part of the celebration Britten’s Centenary in 2013, this new recording presents Britten’s five Canticles, performed by tenor Ben Johnson with James Baillieu accompanying.

Ben Johnson describes his attraction to these works in his self-penned notes for the disc: “Each is deep with meaning or subversion, a trademark of Britten’s music to a modern audience. In their very performance they glide through such variety of style that it makes them wonderfully difficult to categorise. They are song, opera, cantata and chamber music, and so they correspond with the most delicate of intimacy and to the most effective of grand gesture … In his biography of Britten, Humphrey Carpenter points out the close links between the Canticles and Britten’s operas. This answers in part their difference from the ‘usual’ song repertoire: their religious flavour (a stronger taste in some than others) mixed with the circumstances of their composition make for a unique strand in Britten’s output.”

“the expressive nuance of James Baillieu’s piano accompanying is reminiscent of Britten’s own…” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013