Music on Radio

The flow of publications and recordings of Benjamin Britten's juvenilia, which has been sustained now for the best part of two decades, has occasionally been viewed with a certain scepticism. To what extent should publishers make available posthumously work which the composer kept hidden in his bottom drawer? Perhaps the motives behind such projects were not of the purest. But whatever one's viewpoint, there is no doubt that some pieces of extraordinary originality and mastery have been brought to light, even if, in some other cases, commercial zeal has outstripped artistic judgement.

This year's Aldeburgh Festival, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, has now added another item to the list of posthumous revelations of Britten's youthful genius, a work of such extraordinary character and technical command that one wonders why the composer was so reluctant to allow publication. It has been suggested that his Concerto for Violin and Viola was left unorchestrated and unperformed because of the 19-year-old Britten's experience of a dreadful student performance of the roughly contemporary Sinfonietta. But he allowed that work to become his official opus 1, and the premiere of the Double Concerto, broadcast live from the festival by BBC Radio 3 on Sunday afternoon, revealed a precision and daring that must have reassured those who doubt the wisdom of dredging up the composer's forgotten early pieces.

The orchestration of Britten's short score was splendidly achieved by Colin Matthews, and the performance by Katherine Hunka, Philip Dukes and the Britten-Pears Orchestra under Kent Nagano left no doubt that this concerto deserves to become part of the repertory. Later that afternoon in a Radio 3 feature Fifty Years of the Aldeburgh Festival, which included touching anecdotes and absorbing information about the growth of the festival (what an organiser as well as musician Britten was), the point was made that it was never intended as a Bayreuth, and that Britten premieres were fewer than one might have imagined. Nevertheless, works of deepest importance were unveiled there - one's mind boggles at the thought of A Midsummer Night's Dream appearing for the first time on the minute Jubilee Hall stage - and the Concerto for Violin and Viola is fully worthy of that tradition.

The music of a composer of even earlier maturity than Britten, Korngold, is currently undergoing something of a revival: he was Radio 3's Composer of the Week recently, and some of the wunderkind's astonishing orchestral music was given in a follow up concert from Manchester by Matthias Bamert and the BBC Philharmonic. It was a fascinating programme, and it was distinguished by an interval talk which intriguingly compared Korngold's experience of Hollywood with that of Schoenberg. Korngold's film success was phenomenal, of course, as was Schoenberg's intractability when MGM's Irving Thalberg tried to woo him into writing music for The Good Earth. On hearing the description of one sequence, Schoenberg's "Why do you need music with all that going on?" hammered the last nail into the coffin. He never scored a Hollywood movie. But what perhaps is less known is that he later sketched ideas for the movie, apparently for his own satisfaction, including pentatonic motifs for the Chinese peasant scenes, an attempt, perhaps, but a private one, to come off his high horse.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas