by Daniel Hathaway
“Britten is such a master of theater that his Canticle II is like a little 17-minute opera,” countertenor John McElliott said in a telephone conversation. “Any chance I have to sing this music is such a great joy that I savor every one.”
In fact, McElliott has had many opportunities to savor Benjamin Britten’s “Abraham and Isaac” together with his colleagues, tenor JR Fralick and pianist Todd Wilson. “We’ve performed it many times both at the Church of the Covenant and at Trinity Cathedral. At this point, it’s become an old friend.”
McElliott, Fralick, and Wilson will renew that friendship in the third of Music and Art at Trinity’s live streamed concerts this summer, an episode that will air in real time with no audience present on Friday, September 18 at 7:00 pm. The program, “Music by Three B’s,” will include Nadia Boulanger’s Three Improvisations, played by organist Nicole Keller, and Brahms’ Violin Sonata in A, performed by Andrew Sords with pianist Elizabeth DeMio. The event is free, but donations are welcome toward a COVID-19 musicians relief fund.
Britten wrote his five Canticles between 1947 and 1974. Though the titles suggest liturgical works, they’re more like little cantatas for various combinations of voices and instruments. Three of them were crafted as memorials, and all five reflect the composer’s knack for setting fine examples of English literature to highly expressive music. [Read more…]