Britten began learning the viola aged around 9 or 10 and composed a number of early pieces for it, including a sonata in In later life, however, the only piece that exists for solo viola is the beautiful Lachrymae where it is accompanied by piano. The story goes that Britten promised Primrose a new piece, partly to persuade the player to perform at the Aldeburgh Festival, forgot all about it then composed it overnight following a telephone reminder from Primrose. Such haste is scarcely evident in this haunting and cleverly worked-out piece. As Josh Hayward outlines in the film, the piece is a series of variations with the theme delivered at the end, rather than being heard first.
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Hen harrier c Graham Catley, whose rather wonderful blog Pewit can be found here. Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of John Dowland op. While working on Billy Budd , Britten returned to his first instrument. This time he had not himself but the Scottish viola player William Primrose in mind, and Lachrymae was performed by Primrose and Britten at the Aldeburgh Festival in This time the subject is not Purcell, but the celebrated John Dowland song If my complaints could passions move , published in the First Booke of Songes or Ayres in Britten also refers to a second Dowland song, Flow my tears , in the course of the piece.
It is once again to the theme and variations form that Britten turns, for he could work within this framework with great fluency.
Yet rather than use the conventional order of stating the theme first, he works the variations out beforehand and finishes with the theme itself. The sudden outburst from the piano in left hand octaves which begins the sixth reflection Appassionato is proof positive of this, as is the eerie sound of the cold right hand of the piano slowly chiming with the harmonics of the viola in the tenth reflection, marked Lento.
In that sense Lachrymae , as well as being a profoundly emotional utterance, becomes a masterly reinterpretation of a very familiar form. However the one readily available version, part of a disc from Krzysztof Chorzelski and Katya Apekisheva that includes works for viola and piano by Schumann and Shostakovich, is a passionate performance.
The viola and piano original of Lachrymae can be found on this album of 20th century works for viola and piano , performed by Milhail Sarbu and James Creitz.
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Home Welcome to team BB! Spotify The viola and piano original of Lachrymae can be found on this album of 20th century works for viola and piano , performed by Milhail Sarbu and James Creitz. Share this: Tweet. Like this: Like Loading Bookmark the permalink. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. Search for:. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Post to Cancel. Post was not sent - check your email addresses!
Dowland: Lachrymae & Britten: Lachrymae
Marsh harrier c Graham Catley, whose rather wonderful blog Pewit can be found here. Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of John Dowland op. Both works are effectively Variations and a Theme, with the theme almost the last melody to appear in each case. In the last year of his life Britten orchestrated the piano part, so that the viola player Cecil Aronowitz could perform it as a concert piece with strings.