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Bostridge on Britten

In Britten's centenary year, tenor Ian Bostridge celebrates a composer whose work is at the heart of his repertoire.

Ian Bostridge is famous for singing the music of Benjamin Britten. In the composer's centenary year, the singer reflects on the greatness of Britten's vocal music, so much of which was written for the tenor voice.

Ian Bostridge brings his singer's experience and deep intelligence to bear on a composer whose work has formed a central part of his repertoire throughout his singing career. He pays tribute to Peter Pears, whose lifelong interpretation of Britten's music he greatly admires. He reflects on why Britten has never been fully absorbed into the mainstream of classical music and considers whether it has something to do with Britten's preoccupation with troubled, alienated characters and situations - exemplified in operas such as Peter Grimes and Turn of the Screw.

The subjects of Britten's interest - the ostracized Peter Grimes or the tortured Captain Vere in Billy Budd - are powerfully characterized by the tenor voice. Between the countertenor and baritone, the tenor voice has the capacity to express the nuances of Britten's musical language.

In this programme - full of wonderful music from the song cycles, the operas and the choral works - Ian Bostridge contemplates the strangeness of Britten's genius.

First broadcast in January 2013.

45 minutes