Britten: Les illuminations

Played works

Benjamin Britten Les illuminations

Ian Bostridge tenor


Ian Bostridge sings Britten’s Les Illuminations, accompanied by the Concertgebouworkest under the baton of Andris Nelsons. Bostridge takes you on an emotional journey through a dream world.

Britten’s Les Illuminations

Benjamin Britten set his Les Illuminations to prose texts and poems by Arthur Rimbaud. The songs vary greatly in atmosphere, tempo, key and length. Ian Bostridge finds that they nevertheless work as a cycle, thanks to Britten’s brilliant settings, originally composed for soprano. Bostridge: “The music sounds earthier when a tenor sings it. The male voice is better suited to the characteristic vaudeville-like side of the music. […] It’s a hybrid piece, highly surrealistic and evocative – it’s like being on an emotional journey through a dream world.”

Ian Bostridge, tenor

Ian Bostridge, one of the world’s most famous tenors, made his debut with the Concertgebouworkest in 2000. Of the three song cycles that Britten composed Les Illuminations lies the closest to Ian Bostridge’s heart: “It cost me quite a lot of time and work to make the score my own, but it’s now one of the works in which I feel most at home, despite Rimbaud’s sombre and often impenetrable texts.”

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