Listening to Britten – Two pieces for violin and piano

two-pieces
Photo (c) Ben Hogwood

Two pieces for violin and piano (29-30 June 1931, Britten aged 17)

1 The Moon
2 Going down hill on a bicycle

Dedication Remo Lauricella
Duration 5′

Audio clips

Clips of the new Naxos recording from Matthew Jones and Annabel Thwaite can be found on Amazon

Background and Critical Reception

These two pieces for violin and piano were written for Remo Lauricella (1912-2003), a fellow student of Britten’s at the Royal College of Music. A violinist-composer, he also studied under John Ireland, and owned a famous Stradivari violin, the Vesuvio Stradivarius (ex antonio brosa) – of which more can be learned by reading this intriguing article from the Arte Liutaria website.

The pieces lay unrecorded until picked up by Matthew Jones and Annabel Thwaite for their Naxos disc entitled Reflections, where Britten’s available work for violin and piano and viola and piano is appraised.

Thoughts

The two pieces are contrasting in nature. The Moon is a dreamy piece that immediately conjures a mood of serenity, the piano surely depicting the dappled light as it spreads out over water. It is a touching and slightly impressionistic vision, laden with romance too.

On the other side of the coin, Going Down Hill on a Bicycle shows that Britten hasn’t lost his boyish side since moving to London, for this is a good-natured piece that hurtles down the slope in a brilliant episode of descriptive writing – though Britten does take time of a solemn aside in the form of a slower theme half way through.

Recordings used

Matthew Jones (violin), Annabel Thwaite (piano) (Naxos)

Matthew Jones and Annabel Thwaite take their time in The Moon, lazily evoking a summer night, before a capricious account of Going Down Hill on a Bicycle, where Jones is equal to the wide melodic leaps demanded by the composer.

Spotify

Jones and Thwaites are not yet on Spotify but sound clips can be heard using the Amazon link above.

Also written in 1931: Berkeley – Violin Sonata no.1

Next up: The Ascent of F6

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