The young Benjamin Britten was profligate with scores--three of these pieces are unheard since his student days, yet hardly inferior to works of his maturity. The 1939 Young Apollo
, his seven-minute fanfare for piano, string quartet and strings, is marginally the least obscure piece here: its inventive drive and vigour are clearly Britten and yet, like the other pieces here, in some sense the radical road not taken. The Double Concerto
of 1932 for Violin and Viola announces itself with broody discords and moves rapidly into eloquent fiddling from the two soloists--Kremer and Bashmet respond well to this music and give it its full and considerable weight. The 1930 Portraits
for string orchestra, the second featuring Bashmet again as soloist in a moody self-portrait, foreshadow much of what Britten was to do later with string orchestra. Nagano deserves congratulations for selecting this innovative programme and for the restraint needed in performing work so delicate and inventive; he finally breaks out into virtuosity in the finale of the small orchestra version of the Sinfonietta
, making a case for its being quite as fine as the chamber version Britten acknowledged as his op.1.