WORKS: Temps Perdu; Sinfonietta; The Instant Moment
PERFORMER: Henry Herford (baritone); English String Orchestra/William Boughton
CATALOGUE NO: 419 CD
The spirit of Britten breathes through these pieces. Joubert, whose own opera Under Western Eyes cries out for a hearing, knows Britten’s operatic and orchestral oeuvre inside out.
Temps Perdu is a pithy, five-movement, Proust-inspired string work of some power and intensity. It’s a kind of voiceless Les illuminations, full of conscious nostalgic echoes. The Sinfonietta is a lively compote of neo-classical textures, with dancing double woodwind fusing a Sibelian nerviness with Grimesian desolation. The ESO strings, though warm, are not wholly reliable, and only at the final ‘Moonrise’ does Henry Herford’s soul-wrenching in The Instant Moment (a dark DH Lawrence song cycle with operatic overtones) break free of the histrionic. With a little more Brittenesque flair, Boughton might have relieved the slightly constipated feel which pervades the work. Two lark-like solo violins fare much better. Roderic Dunnett