Askonas Holt celebrates Britten

Askonas Holt is proud to be at the cutting edge of the 2013 Britten celebrations.

The year began with three notable recordings – the 2011 Aldeburgh Festival performances of The Rape of Lucretia, with Angelika Kirchschlager, Ian Bostridge, Susan Gritton and Peter Coleman-Wright, issued by EMI Virgin, to tremendous acclaim.  Ian Bostridge’s new recording of Britten songs with Sir Antonio Pappano and Xuefei Yang for EMI is also now issued to great critical approval.  Susan Gritton, John Mark Ainsley and Christopher Maltman have made a studio recording (with the Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh) of the War Requiem, to be released in the autumn. 
Performances of the War Requiem extend throughout the year and across the globe: in Beijing with John Mark Ainsley and Hanno Müller-Brachmann;  in Seattle with Ludovic Morlot, Christine Brewer and Ivan Ludlow;   in Adelaide and Sydney with Andrew Staples; in Auckland with Timothy Robinson and Ivan Ludlow;  in Novosibirsk with Ainars Rubikis; in Aalborg with Benjamin Hulett and Mark Stone; in Chicago and Boston with Tatiana Pavlovskaya and John Mark Ainsley;  in Zürich Toby Spence, Tatiana Pavlovskaya and Hanno Müller-Brachmann are the soloists, in Munich the soloists are Anna Samuil and Toby Spence, in London Edward Gardner leads the CBSO and the CBSO Chorus in St. Paul’s Cathedral with Evelina Dobraceva and Toby Spence;  Ian Bostridge heads a starry line up at the Salzburg Festival with Pappano; and John Mark Ainsley sang in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s performances conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.   
Throughout the year Britten’s orchestral masterpiece, the Spring Symphony, is given in London and Birmingham by Edward Gardner, with Susan Gritton and Christine Rice;  by David Atherton in Cardiff with Jennifer Johnston, in New York by Kate Royal, in Aldeburgh itself with Robert Murray, in Stockholm under Daniel Harding with Sophie Bevan, and in Rotterdam and Amsterdam – where the work received its premiere  – with Askonas Holt’s Eleanor Dennis and Andrew Staples.  Britten’s Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings is ubiquitous, sung by Robin Tritschler in Luxembourg, Timothy Robinson in Manchester, Andrew Staples in Dublin, John Mark Ainsley in Glasgow and Edinburgh with George Benjamin conducting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and by Ian Bostridge in New York, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, Vienna and Hamburg.   Thomas Zehetmair leads a celebration of Britten’s vocal works with the Northern Sinfonia at The Sage Gateshead.   Les Illuminations received a new spin, in a play by Iain Burnside, following on the success of his treatment of the life of Ivor Gurney for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, commissioned in collaboration by the GSMD and the Royal College of Music, given at the Britten Theatre last February. The work was also performed by Sophie Bevan in her Aldeburgh Festival debut and will be sung by Ian Bostridge at the BBC Proms under Daniel Harding.
Bernard Haitink led the charge with Britten’s orchestral music, conducting the Sea Interludes with the London Symphony Orchestra in London and on tour in Korea and Japan.  George Benjamin conducts the Sea Interludes in Turin and the Nocturne at the MiTo Festival.  Tadaaki Otaka conducted the Double Concerto in Cardiff.   Paul Goodwin conducts the Piano Concerto in Graz and performed the Nocturne in Padova.  Thomas Søndergård conducts the Violin Concerto in Oslo, and Vilde Frang plays the concerto in Bucharest, Sydney and in Liverpool.  The Cello Symphony was conducted by Robin Ticciati in Aldeburgh and by David Afkham in Seattle, performed by Yo-Yo Ma at the Barbican with the LSO and Pieter Wispelwey, for whom Britten’s music has been central to his performing career, played the Cello Symphony in Belgium and will repeat it in Germany and in Dublin, and he performs selected cello suites throughout Germany and Holland, culminating in a performance of the complete cello suites at the Wigmore Hall in December.   Young Apollo will be played by Lara Melda for the first time on the occasion of her Barbican debut (with Ian Bostridge giving a rare performance of Our Hunting Fathers).  And Xuefei Yang plays the rarely heard Nocturnal, originally written for Julian Bream, on tour in the UK, and in Istanbul, San Francisco, Seoul and Cologne. 
Britten’s operas form the centrepiece of these 2013 celebrations.  The year began with the first staging of Billy Budd to be seen in Russia,  conducted by rising star Mikhail Tatarnikov (whose grandfather Dzhemal Dalgat had translated the libretto of Peter Grimes into Russian and staged the first Russian performance, in the Kirov Theatre, with Benjamin Britten in the audience).  The eponymous hero was sung by Andrei Bondarenko, who made his debut in the role and indeed in Britten’s music.  The 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize Winner has called this a ‘dream role’ for him.  Graeme Broadbent sang his first Claggart in this his Russian debut.  Billy Budd also returns to the Glyndebourne Festival, with David Soar, Duncan Rock and Brindley Sherratt singing his first Claggart.   
As the centrepiece of the Aldeburgh Festival celebrations,  Peter Grimes was given both in concert at the Maltings, and in a ground-breaking production on Aldeburgh beach – Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Robert Murray joined a cast headed by Alan Oke, singing the title role for the first time.   Peter Grimes will also make its Chinese debut in Beijing, featuring a young cast led by Duncan Ward with Andrew Staples making his debut in the role, Amanda Roocroft, Robert Murray, Malin Christensson, Rebecca Bottone, Mark Stone, Graeme Broadbent and ZhengZhong Zhou. Alan Oke, after his triumph as Aschenbach at the Aldeburgh Festival, reprises the role for Opera North’s production of  Death in Venice, whilst at the London Coliseum Edward Gardner conducted Deborah Warner‘s production which has already been seen in London, Brussels, Luxembourg and at La Scala Milan and on this occasion was filmed for DVD;  Ian Bostridge sings Aschenbach in the first performance of Death in Venice in Russia, with Peter Coleman-Wright and Iestyn Davies, at the Moscow Conservatoire.  Gloriana was given a new production in Hamburg led by Amanda Roocroft and Robert Murray, and at the Royal Opera House, led by Toby Spence, Kate Royal, Mark Stone and Brindley Sherratt.   Fiona Shaw directs The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne on Tour, prior to its showing at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2015, with Duncan Rock, David Soar and Catherine Wyn-Rogers on tour, joined by Christine Rice, Kate Royal and Matthew Rose in the Festival.  Catherine Wyn-Rogers will feature in the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s celebration of Albert Herring at the Barbican in November,  with Christine Brewer as Lady Billows, Matthew Rose as Superintendent Budd  and Andrew Staples in the title role.  November also sees the return of the Metropolitan Opera’s glorious production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, led by Iestyn Davies as Oberon, with Matthew Rose giving his much-acclaimed Bottom, both singing their roles for the first time in New York. 
Benjamin Britten’s matchless genius as a songsmith is at the heart of many song recitals scheduled for 2013, led by Christianne Stotijn and Imogen Cooper, whose performances of the Thomas Hardy settings, Winter Words, was a notable first when heard at the Cheltenham Festival, and will be repeated at the Snape Proms. Christianne has sung Britten’s last vocal work, Phaedra,  at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and the work will also be interpreted by Sarah Connolly at the BBC Proms and Angela Denoke at the Berlin and Flanders Festivals. Ian Bostridge had the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, at the centre of the Hamburg Residency he curated, with his colleagues Iestyn Davies and Simon Keenlyside.   This Residency included a complete performance of the five Canticles, which Ian and Iestyn also perform together in Aldeburgh,  Brighton, New York, Moscow and London. 
London sees the culmination of these celebrations in the winter of 2013, when the Barbican will present Simon Keenlyside and Malcolm Martineau in the launch of the Celebrity Recital series, with the settings of William Blake poems originally written for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau;  and in a new staging, by Netia Jones, of the great church parable Curlew River, with Neal Davies, Peter Coleman-Wright and led by Ian Bostridge singing the role of the Madwoman for the first time. Ian Bostridge also adds another string to his bow, by having his article on Britten published in the Times Literary Supplement.

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