Britten had begun the second of his major concertos (the first being for piano in 1938) some months before leaving the UK. He picked it up again having reached Canada, and the composition draft is signed off with ‘Toronto/June 18th 1939’ (he completed the full score three months later). It is a dazzling and highly theatrical work, owing a great debt to the Viennese composer Alban Berg who had died a few years earlier. The soloist at the work’s premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York was Britten’s friend Antonio Brosa, and it was conducted by Sir John Barbirolli – to great critical acclaim.
Our Work of the Week is presented by Roger Wright, Chief Executive of Snape Maltings, where the Concerto will be performed during the last weekend of the 2018 Aldeburgh Festival.