The Nash Ensemble

Chamber Ensemble

The Nash Ensemble

The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest and most adventurous chamber groups, and through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman and the calibre of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast, and the imaginative, innovative, and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the Group takes its name.

Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the Avant Garde. Indeed, it is one of the major contributors towards the recognition and promotion of many leading composers. By the end of the 2007/8 season the group will have performed over 250, of which 138 have been specially commissioned, providing a legacy for generations to come.

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Bruch: String Quintets & Octet

Bruch: String Quintets & Octet


String Quintet in E Flat, Op. posth (1918)

Octet in B flat major, Op. post. (1920)

String Quintet in A minor, Op. posth (1918)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Music which belies the date and circumstances of its composition. All three works were written in the immediate aftermath of World War I, yet inhabit a sound world of Brahmsian richness and warmth—very much the product of the composer of the famous Violin Concerto. The Nash Ensemble are ideal interpreters.

“The always rewarding Nash Ensemble add warmth and grace to the sprightly String Quintet in E flat major and bring verve and attack to its edgier A minor companion, but it is in the magnificent String Octet that the players finally allow the sun to truly shine. Recommended.” The Observer, 26th March 2017 ****

“they have a yearning lyricism that harks back to the G minor Violin Concerto...and the rich texture of five and eight parts gives the sound a depth and mellowness. Although all three are in the ‘concertante’ style, ensuring that first violinist Stephanie Gonley enjoys the majority of the limelight, there’s no shortage of interplay between the parts as well as some delightful melodic turns of phrase.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 31st March 2017

“The Nash ensemble have a natural feeling for the music's ebb and flow, and while they're not afraid of big gestures and the bite of horsehair and rosin, they play beautifully as an ensemble...Together, these performances go to the top of a not exactly crowded field; in fact his disc needs to be heard by everyone who loves German Romantic chamber music.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“These three very likeable chamber offerings by Max Bruch…receive joyously assured treatment from the distinguished members of The Nash Ensemble on this truthfully engineered Hyperion release…Tully Potter supplies a personable and authoritative booklet-essay, and collectors with a sweet tooth will find the disc as a whole well worth seeking out.” Classical Ear, 14th April 2017 ****

“The Nash Ensemble members (including Stephanie Gonley, Laura Samuel, Lawrence Power and Adrian Brendel) play superbly and devotedly and are tangibly recorded. Highly recommended.”, May 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

31st March 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Hyperion - CDA68168



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Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland

Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman & Copland

American chamber music


Billy the Kid: Waltz

Rebecca Gilliver (cello), Ian Brown (piano)

Billy the Kid: Celebration

Rebecca Gilliver (cello), Ian Brown (piano)


Clap Yo' Hands

Ian Brown (piano)

Do, Do, Do

Ian Brown (piano)

Do It Again

Ian Brown (piano)

Fascinatin' Rhythm

Ian Brown (piano)

I Got Rhythm (from Girl Crazy & An American in Paris)

Ian Brown (piano)

I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise

Ian Brown (piano)


Ian Brown (piano)

The Man I Love

Ian Brown (piano)

My One & Only

Ian Brown (piano)

Nobody But You

Ian Brown (piano)

Oh, Lady Be Good!

Ian Brown (piano)

Somebody Loves Me

Ian Brown (piano)

Strike Up the Band

Ian Brown (piano)


Ian Brown (piano)

Sweet and Low-Down

Ian Brown (piano)

's Wonderful

Ian Brown (piano)

That Certain Feeling

Ian Brown (piano)

Who Cares?

Ian Brown (piano)

Promenade (Walking the Dog)

arr. Anthony Wakefield

Richard Hosford (clarinet), Ian Brown (piano)

Lullaby for Strings

Marianne Thorsen (violin), Laura Samuel (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), Rebecca Gilliver (cello)

Herrmann, B:

Souvenir de Voyage for Clarinet Quintet

Richard Hosford (clarinet), Marianne Thorsen (violin), Laura Samuel (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), Rebecca Gilliver (cello)

Waxman, F:

Four scenes from childhood

Marianne Thorsen (violin), Ian Brown (piano)

This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.

“The Nash Ensemble’s adroit playing tug at the heart-strings.” Financial Times, 20th June 2015

Hyperion - CDA68094



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Tavener: Akhmatova Requiem

Tavener: Akhmatova Requiem


Akhmatova Requiem

Phyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano) & John Shirley-Quirk (bass-baritone)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Russian Folk Songs (6)

Elise Ross (soprano)

The Nash Ensemble

John Tavener first came to public attention in 1968 with the premiere of his oratorio The Whale at the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta; The Beatles subsequently recorded this piece on their Apple label.

Akhmatova Requiem will be performed at London's Barbican on 5 October as part of BBC Total Immersion: John Tavener Remembered Tavener's avant-garde style of the seventies contrasts with the contemplative beauty of his later works, for which he is best known, yet he spirituality and mysticism is still present.

Akhmatova Requiem (1980) sets a sequence of poems written during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s by Anna Akhmatova, describing the terror of having her family and friends arrested and imprisoned, and the lines of relatives waiting hopelessly outside Leningrad jail. To her poems, Tavener added prayers from the Russian Orthodox funeral service which are sung on this recording by bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk.

Six Russian Folk Songs (1978) represent, in the composer's words, 'a musical sigh of relief' and a complete contrast to the pain and sorrow of the Requiem; they were written for the Nash Ensemble's 15th anniversary in 1979. Simple settings of folk lyrics, their melodic nature recalls Tchaikovsky's songs.

This recording was previously issued by Carlton Classics in its BBC Radio Classics series.

“this heartfelt setting of Anna Akhmatova's blistering condemnation of Stalinist atrocities still packs an enormous punch...The Requiem grips from the start...Phyllis Bryn-Julson is on strong form, portraying outrage with convincing passion while avoiding operatic melodramatics...the Requiem is, against all odds, ultimately uplifting, paying tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - December 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off



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Birtwistle: The Moth Requiem

Birtwistle: The Moth Requiem


The Moth Requiem (2003)

Latin Motets (3) from The Last Supper

Carmen Paschale


On the Sheer Threshold of the Night

The Moth Requiem (2012)

Roderick Williams (baritone)

BBC Singers & Nash Ensemble, Nicholas Kok

As 2014 marks the composer’s 80th year, Harrison Birtwistle remains one of the most popular voices in contemporary composition in the UK and beyond. This new collection of premiere recordings draws together recent commissions with older works to mark the occasion, with characteristically flawless performances from the BBC Singers under Nicholas Kok. They are joined on this disc by the Nash Ensemble and baritone Roderick Williams.

This is the fourth in Signum's ongoing series of composer-led releases with the BBC Singers, with past discs featuring the works by Judith Bingham, Richard Rodney Bennett, and most recently Edward Cowie.

“The centrepiece of this outstanding disc of choral works by Harrison Birtwistle, all recorded for the first time, is one of the beautiful and most intensely personal of his recent scores...It's an important, scrupulously presented collection.” The Guardian, 20th February 2014 *****

“This is a wonderful and important release of his powerful and often delicate works. Best, perhaps, to begin with On the Sheer Threshold of the Night, which is a kind of spin-off from The Mask of Orpheus...This disc is the most fitting tribute imaginable to Birtwistle on his 80th birthday.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 *****

“I doubt whether anything the year brings for Birtwistle's 80th birthday is going to dim the lustre of this excellent recording of his choral music. Nor surpass it in importance, perhaps.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2014

Presto Discs of 2014


GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2014

Up to 30% off Signum

Signum - SIGCD368


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Bridge: Phantasy Piano Quartet & Sonatas

Bridge: Phantasy Piano Quartet & Sonatas


Phantasy in F sharp minor for piano quartet

Cello Sonata in D minor, H125

An Irish Melody, "Londonderry Air"

Cherry Ripe

Sally in Our Alley

Christmas Dance 'Sir Roger de Coverley'

Violin Sonata, H. 183 (1932)

The Nash Ensemble: Marianne Thorsen (violin), Laura Samuel (violin), Lawrence Power (viola), Paul Watkins (cello) & Ian Brown (piano)

The Nash Ensemble presents a fascinating compendium of Frank Bridge’s chamber music, demonstrating the composer’s developing style.

Bridge is best known through his most famous pupil, Benjamin Britten, who recognized his teacher’s genius and frequently programmed his works. The Phantasy Piano Quartet, completed in June 1910, reveals Bridge’s early style at its most fluent. Writing in the 1948 Aldeburgh Festival programme book, Benjamin Britten revealed the essence of this work perfectly: ‘Sonorous yet lucid, with clear, clean lines, grateful to listen to and to play. It is the music of a practical musician, brought up in German orthodoxy, but who loved French romanticism and conception of sound—Brahms happily tempered with Fauré.’

In his later works, represented here by the Cello Sonata and Violin Sonata, Bridge made use of more angular melodies, and seemed influenced by contemporary trends in Europe, much to the dismay of critics at home. Britten staunchly defended Bridge and writes about ‘the invariable fascination of the sound; the conversational melodies can be difficult to recognize, but the drama and tensions easy to feel’.

Also included are folk-song arrangements in which Bridge absorbs the material into his musical fabric, taking creative ownership of the melodies.

“The sonata receives a wonderfully searching performance from Paul Watkins and Ian Brown...[in the Violin Sonata] the earlier lyricism is there, but as just one part of an expressive web. Thorsen and Brown catch those moodswings perfectly” The Guardian, 26th September 2013 *****

“Throughout, there's an identifiable melodic flow, initially comparable to Faure, and then Bridge's characteristic harmonic idiom developed from the techniques of Scriabin and early Berg.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2013

“What this beautifully played and thoughtfully programmed disc has going for it are, first, that it presents these works in a chronological survey of Bridge's chamber output...Altogether, a valuable addition to the ever-growing Frank Bridge discography.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ****

Hyperion - CDA68003



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Anthony Payne: Phoenix Mass

Anthony Payne: Phoenix Mass


Phoenix Mass

BBC Singers & Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, John Poole


Susan Bradshaw (piano)

The World’s Winter

Jane Manning (soprano)

The Nash Ensemble, Lionel Friend

Horn Trio

Jane’s Minstrels

Composer, writer, lecturer and broadcaster Anthony Payne was born in London and educated at Dulwich College and Durham University.

His completion of Elgar’s Third Symphony in 1997 brought him worldwide acclaim and numerous awards, including the Elgar Medal and awards from the South Bank Show and Evening Standard as well as the New York Critics’ Circle. Its premiere recording on NMC is still our best-selling recording (NMCD053).

Commissions include four major premieres at the BBC Proms and works for the BBC Philharmonic and London Sinfonietta. He has won British Composer Awards for his orchestral piece Visions and Journeys and his Second String Quartet, commissioned by the Allegri Quartet.

His orchestrations include a suite of Warlock songs, Elgar’s Crown of India, and Vaughan Williams’s Four Last Songs.

Phoenix Mass, written in 1965, was originally to have been a liturgical setting only for school choir but soon turned into something much bigger and more technically demanding. As Anthony Payne elaborated the project he experienced what he recalled as ‘the natural emergence of a new manner – long sought but previously only partly envisaged’ and despite the Medieval and Baroque connotations of its techniques and scoring, and a few passing resemblances to Britten and Maxwell Davies, this is the earliest of Payne’s acknowledged works that reveals a completely integrated musical character of its own.

Also on this recording is the Horn Trio, a piece symbolising marital harmony, written in 2006; The World's Winter (1976) for soprano and piano, setting two early poems of Tennyson – Nothing Will Die and All Things Will Die and Paean (1971) for solo piano.

Phoenix Mass, Paean and The World’s Winter have been transferred from LP in the absence of the original masters. The Horn Trio was recorded live for BBC Radio 3.

“Payne’s English Romantic affinities (expressed in his realisation of Elgar sketches) are less evident in this enjoyable sequence of mostly early works than a brand of keen-edged postwar modernism.” Sunday Times, 21st April 2013

“If you only know Anthony Payne through his excellent realisation of Elgar's Third Symphony, his own music may come as a surprise, especially the early works on this disc...[The World's Winter] is riveting...The gorgeous Horn Trio from 2006 completes a fascinating collection.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2013 ****

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The Nash Ensemble: Brundibár

The Nash Ensemble: Brundibár

Music by composers in Theresienstadt (1941–1945)

Haas, P:

String Quartet No. 2, Op. 7 'From the Monkey Mountains'

Klein, Gideon:

String Trio (1944)


Brundibár: Suite

arr. David Matthews

Ullmann, V:

String Quartet No. 3, Op. 46

"The greatest musical experiences radically alter our perspectives. This was very much the case with The Nash Ensemble’s Theresienstadt weekend. Concerts, films, talks and exhibitions examined the extraordinary cultural flowering in the ghetto-camp near Prague, set up by the Nazis in 1941, where, among thousands of others, the Czech-Jewish intelligentsia were held before transportation to death camps. The event’s force lay in its broadening of our contextual awareness, and in its revelation of the quality of the work produced … many works were outright masterpieces … the Nash, an ensemble of stars, played with great technical power and depth of feeling … the Nash should tour this internationally—it deserves to be heard around the world. (The Guardian)

The Nash Ensemble presents a programme of works written at the transit camp Theresienstadt by four Jewish composers who went on to be killed at Auschwitz, their music forgotten. In recent years it has begun to be performed again and its extraordinary quality appreciated.

One of the most popular works was Hans Krása’s enchanting children’s opera Brundibár, performed fifty-five times at the camp and presented here as a suite arranged by the composer David Matthews. Viktor Ullmann, whose chamber opera The Emperor of Atlantis is now frequently performed, is represented by his String Quartet No 3, a lyrical, sumptuous work with a wistful quality, influenced by the Second Viennese School. Pavel Haas studied with Janácek and his vividly atmospheric String Quartet No 2, ‘From the Monkey Mountains’, shows the influence of his teacher, but also a definite musical personality.

“It's hard to separate any of this music from the life histories of the composers. But these sharply contrasting pieces, played with typical Nash polish and intelligence, show there was no shared Theresienstadt style – just a collection of promising creative careers never allowed to reach fulfilment.” The Guardian, 24th January 2013 ***

“[the sound is] slightly clinical though crystal clear. This shows the Nash Ensemble's subtly nuanced performance in the best light” Gramophone Magazine, April 2013

“Both [the Ullmann and the Klein] are powerfully emotional works and they are performed here by the Nash Ensemble with passionate conviction and great attention to detail...The Nash Ensemble clearly relishes [Brundibar's] light-heartedness and its moments of poignancy delivering a performance that is witty and thoroughly engaging...the Nash string players are especially in their element in the exciting Finale subtitled 'Wild Night' impressive achievement.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2013 ****

Hyperion - CDA67973



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Schumann: Chamber Music

Schumann: Chamber Music


Adagio and Allegro in A flat major, Op. 70

Richard Watkins (horn) & Ian Brown (piano)

Märchenbilder (4), Op. 113

Lawrence Power (viola) & Ian Brown (piano)

Fantasiestücke, Op. 73

Richard Hosford (clarinet) & Ian Brown (piano)

Märchenerzählungen (4) for Clarinet, Viola & Piano, Op. 132

Richard Hosford (clarinet), Lawrence Power (viola) & Ian Brown (piano)

Romances (3), Op. 94

Gareth Hulse (oboe) & Ian Brown (piano)

Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105

Marianne Thorsen (violin) & Ian Brown (piano)

Among Schumann’s inspired late chamber works is a collection of music for more unusual instruments, composed in a concentrated flurry of creativity between 1849 and 1853 and written specifically for particular players, and it is to these exquisite short works that the world-famous Nash Ensemble turns its impeccable collective musicianship.

While Schumann modelled his music specifically to the timbres of the instruments he wrote for—piano, violin, horn, clarinet and oboe—he also arranged these pieces for alternative instruments with an eye to maximizing sales. Here, however, the soloists from The Nash Ensemble present the works in their original scoring in what are bound to be definitive performances—the delicious Fantasiestücke for clarinet, and the fiery and lyrical Märchenbilder, which feature star British viola player Lawrence Power. Other delights include the Adagio and Allegro for horn, a brilliant showpiece, the Violin Sonata No 1, Drei Romanzen for oboe and piano and the Märchenerzählungen for clarinet, viola and piano.

“The Nash players are British chamber-music royalty, but it is always an especial pleasure to hear the voluptuous viola sound of Lawrence Power in such an eloquent dialogue with Ian Brown’s piano in the too rarely heard Märchenbilder...A gorgeous, unmissable disc of great, too infrequently heard chamber music.” Sunday Times, 29th April 2012

“This is an admirably compilation of consistently fine performances of almost all of Schumann's shorter chamber music for one or two instruments and piano, and as such is most valuable as a collection...The performances throughout...are each beyond criticism. In particularly I admire also the slightly varied balance between the instruments...another fine record from this consistently first-class company.” International Record Review, May 2012

“how thoroughly each one of these performers warms to his or her allotted task (perhaps 'role' would be a better word), though it's violinist Marianne Thorsen and pianist Ian Brown in the Sonata who steal the show. It makes a superb finale to a disc that works equally well whether you sample individual pieces or savour it as a whole.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 *****

“affectionate and technically irreproachable performances...The five woodwind and string players of the Nash Ensemble respond ideally to this music - music which surely they have known and loved throughout ther playing lives - and Ian Brown is an ever-sensitive collaborative pianist...Unique and compelling from beginning to end.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2012

Hyperion - CDA67923



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The Nash Ensemble plays Glazunov, Borodin & Arensky

The Nash Ensemble plays Glazunov, Borodin & Arensky


Quartet in A Minor for violin, viola and two cellos, Op. 35


String Sextet in D minor


String Quintet Op.39

After a highly acclaimed series of Brahms chamber music releases for ONYX, the Nash Ensemble turn their attention to 19th-century Russian repertoire.

Glazunov’s superbly crafted String Quintet in A of 1891 is coupled with Arensky’s Second Quartet with two cellos and Borodin’s unfinished Sextet for strings in D minor. The latter was written, according to the composer, in Mendelssohnian style ‘to please the Germans’ while he was in Heidelberg.

“The Nash Ensemble’s superior string players make a beautiful case for these not overfamiliar 19th-century Russian works.” Sunday Times, 15th April 2012

“gorgeously played by the Nash Ensemble.. while Glazunov's 1892 quintet is fluent and ingratiating if rather unmemorable. Like the rest of the disc, though, it's delivered with such energy and relish that hardly matters” The Guardian, 19th April 2012 ****

“It’s the Arensky which actually contains the best-known music. Its central movement, arranged for string orchestra, has an independent life as the Variations on a theme of Tchaikovsky. The pieces are more focused on pleasure than profundity, and in these beautifully polished Nash Ensemble performances, fall agreeably, sometimes delectably, on the ear. The Arensky Variations are a delight in their original form.” The Irish Times, 27th April 2012 ****

“This well-planned album offers three complementary works linked both by the genial spirit of Borodin...[his Sextet] has considerable charm...Both movements are played here by the Nash Ensemble with relish and conviction...Top of the bill in every sense is Arensky's Quartet of 1894, presenting a hugely inventive variety of textures.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 *****

“a delightful cherry-picking of 19th-century Russian chamber-repertoire...Their playing is characteristically sweet and bright, and they find the right balance between Russian folk-tune ponderousness and Slavic emotionalism.” METRO, 11th June 2012

“An original and attractive record” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“the Nash Ensemble give warm-hearted, lyrical readings of all these works, and there are too many highlights to mention.The engineering leaves nothing to be desired; the program, filling as it does three gaps in the average listener’s library, adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The cover design’s pretty terrific too. I could go on, but what more do you need to hear?” MusicWeb International, August 2012

Onyx - ONYX4067



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Brahms - Piano Quartet No. 2 & Clarinet Trio

Brahms - Piano Quartet No. 2 & Clarinet Trio


Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 26

with Ian Brown (piano)

Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114

with Richard Hosford (clarinet)

Another release on ONYX from “Britain’s premier chamber ensemble” (The Times) completing the piano quartet recordings. Nos 1&3 were released to critical acclaim on ONYX4029.

“...the playing, by Richard Hosford (clarinet), Paul Watkins (cello) and Ian Brown (piano), does...ample justice to the work’s passionate melancholy...The splendid performance of the piano quartet shows the young Brahms’s intellectual power and melodic abundance to magnificent advantage.” Sunday Times, 2nd May 2010 ****

“An account of an early performance of the Trio said it was "as though the instruments were in love with one another" – which could equally fit this recording of the Piano Quartet No 2, such is the effortless mastery of the Nash Ensemble.” The Observer, 9th May 2010

“These are beautifully expressive, thoughtful performances of two unalloyed masterpieces, presented with all the sonic excellence and distinction that we've come to expect from Onyx's series of recording with the Nash Ensemble...The middle movements especially strike me as outstanding, with a wonderful sense of regret and melancholy in the Adagio.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2010 *****

“[this] new recording keeps its wilder emotions suppressed, ever simmering under the surface. It's an approach that works well in late Brahms, especially when the playing is as classy as this: listen to the swirling pianissimo scales that close the first movement - breathtaking.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2010

Onyx - ONYX4045



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