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London, St. John's Smith Square: Britten and David Matthews premières

  • Martin Anderson

The world première of Benjamin Britten's Two Pieces (his title) for violin, viola and piano on 9 July provided further proof of his precocious genius, and also hinted intriguingly at the turning his compositional career never took. The concert that presented the Britten trio and another première, David Matthews's Duet Variations for violin and piano, was organized by Haus Publishing to launch Matthews's new biography of Britten, and it was while researching the book that Matthews came across the score of the Two Pieces, written in late 1929 for a chamber group in which he played the viola. Like the Quartettino, which it immediately predates, the Two Pieces shows Britten trying his hand at a Bergian expressionism. A note in his diary at the time (November 1929), quoted in the programme for the concert, reveals the direction his mind was taking: ‘I am thinking much about modernism in art, debating whether Impressionism, Expressionism, Classicism etc are right. I have half decided on Schoenberg’. His music confirms his words.

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  • ISSN: 0040-2982
  • EISSN: 1478-2286
  • URL: /core/journals/tempo
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