Sarah Francis (oboe), Michael Dussek (piano), Delmé Quartet
The time-span of the small but not insignificant body of chamber music which Britten wrote for solo oboe extends from the days of his first London successes as a student composer at the Royal College of Music in the early thirties to the year 1951 when—though still not without his detractors—he had become recognized by the public as a genius of the first rank. This was a momentous period in his development. After work as a composer for the GPO Film Unit and the so-called Group and Left Theatres in London he left in 1939 for America, only to find himself irresistibly drawn back to England and his Suffolk roots in 1942, with Peter Grimes stirring in his creative imagination. The great success of Peter Grimes in 1945 established its thirty-one-year-old composer as a new voice in English music and the white hope of English opera. There followed in rapid succession the tragedy The Rape of Lucretia and the comedy Albert Herring, and Billy Budd was now almost ready for its premiere at the Royal Opera House in December.