Britten: Spring Symphony, Sinfonia da Requiem, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Britten: Spring Symphony, Sinfonia da Requiem, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Britten’s choral Spring Symphony, first performed in 1949, still sounds startlingly modern and fresh today. And Simon Rattle’s LSO Live recording vindicates this four-movement work which was in many respects ahead of its time. An extended “Introduction” sets a bleak, rawly expressive, and quite unsentimental context of winter, vividly painted by the LSO, to which the London Symphony Chorus fervently respond. With spring’s arrival Britten lightens up, daring his soloists, led here by the superlative Allan Clayton, to imitate birdcalls (which they do here credibly and engagingly). Britten also introduces the gutsy singing of children—here the combined, enthusiastic choirs drawn from the Tiffin Boys’ and Girls’ schools—who ultimately cap the carnival-like finale by singing the old round “Sumer is icumen in.” Spring Symphony is imaginatively framed here by Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem of 1940 and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra of 1945, between them presenting a journey from darkest despair to inspirational triumph. Rattle’s account of the Sinfonia is fluent and purposeful, leading fairly inexorably to the furious central “Dies irae.” In the final “Requiem aeternam,” Rattle clearly responds to Britten’s Mahler-like scoring for the strings, creating a genuinely touching moment. After Spring Symphony’s joyous finale follows a lively, deftly characterized performance of Young Person’s Guide, its high-spirited final fugue culminating in a gloriously sonorous restatement by the LSO brass of the Purcell theme on which the whole work is based.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada