Best of Britten by Bostridge
One for the Funeral?I really don't think it's possible to find more English-sounding classical music than Benjamin Britten's Serenade. (If there is, then tell me.) Written in 1944 towards the end of the Second World War, Britten set English verse — from the likes of Blake, Keats, and Tennyson — to horn and strings. The music engages the melancholy, sometimes weary, mood of the verse (and England at that time) to perfection.
You can find a documentary and performance of the piece here.
Below you can see the brilliant tenor Ian Bostridge performing the Pastoral from Serenade, introduced in Prologue by Radovan Vlatkovic on horn. Note that the horn is played without using valves to get that wonderfully eery sound that sends you straight into the correct mood to listen to the rest of the piece.
Imagine having this piece played at your funeral — fabulous stuff.
I've seen Ian in concert a couple of times and he never disappoints. Be sure to delve into his magnificent English Songbook.
Ian also has a new release out on Warner Music this month. Shakespeare Songs with the ebullient Antonio Pappano contains musical settings of Shakespeare's verse. Your Where the Bee Sucks and Pretty Ring Time are present, natch. When I was a Little Tiny Boy — also present — has always been a favourite of mine. (Spiers & Boden do a cracking version of that song.)