By Joshua Cheek
Benjamin Britten was a life-long devotee of the recorder, featuring it in his opera “Noye’s Fludde” (1957) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (1960). He was also a fairly good player, himself, and served as president for the British Society of Recorder Players from 1958 to 1976.
His initial interest in the recorder came through his friend and collaborator Imogen Holst, who was daughter of the composer Gustav Holst. The Alpine Suite is a delightful pièce d’occasion, written while on a skiing holiday in Zermatt, Switzerland with Peter Pears and the artist Mary Potter. As fate would have it, Ms. Potter fell and injured her ankle. To pass the time while she convalesced, Britten dashed off this little suite (originally for a trio of recorders, now arranged by Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani for recorder and harpsichord) for performance during the evening.