Britten, Benjamin (1913-1976)
Benjamin Britten is particularly well known for his important contribution to twentieth-century opera. The British composer, born in 1913, also produced numerous and beautiful chamber music scores.
Quartet n° 1, opus 25 (1941)
During a short stay in the United States in 1939, Britten received a commission to write a string quartet from the arts patron Elizabeth Sprague-Coolidge (1864-1953).
Composed in California in 1941, the quartet opus 25 is a very ingenious work. Opening with a mysterious and enigmatic introduction, the first movement unfolds with great force and vitality underlined by syncopated rhythms. With its outbursts of triplets and brilliant trills, the brief scherzo reminds us of Chostakovitch. Intensity, beauty and nostalgia dominate the magnificent Andante calmo. Punctuated by five quarter notes, giving an almost rocking movement, a very simple theme is deployed: a descending scale. Britten's first quartet closes with a brilliant and sparkling finale in which the tonality of D can at last affirm itself without hesitation.
Olga Ranzenhofer et Jean Portugais
Quartet n° 3, opus 94 (1975)