Claire Booth

Soprano

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Grainger: Folk Music

Grainger: Folk Music


Grainger:

Bold William Taylor

Six Dukes Went a-Fishin'

Knight & Shepherd's Daughter

Lord Maxwell's Goodnight

My Robin Is to the Greenwood Gone

The Pretty Maid milkin' her Cow

The Sprig of Thyme

The Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol

The Twa Corbies

Irish Tune from County Derry 'Danny Boy'

Died for Love

The Power of Love

Walking Tune

Willow Willow

Early One Morning

One More Day, My John

Hard-Hearted Barb'ra (H)Ellen

Country Gardens


Claire Booth (soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano)

Soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn explore the fascinating and multifaceted folk song output of the original and inventive composer Percy Grainger.

Percy Grainger was an extraordinary human being and musician - a precocious pianist, colourful composer and world traveller, a peculiarly passionate and emotive eccentric whose fertile mind produced an expansive oeuvre of original and inventive works. Above all Grainger is best known for his most enduring musical endeavour, his exploration and dissemination of folk music. With this release, soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn, who have spent decades delving into Grainger's folk music output, document their fascination with the multifaceted firebrand, and bring his alluring music to a wider audience.

Grainger's success resulted in multiple versions of his folk song settings, for orchestra, wind band, chamber ensemble and choir. But it's perhaps his versions for voice and piano that are the most characteristic, bringing out Grainger's own highly individual style at the keyboard. Claire's and Christopher's survey, one of the most comprehensive available on the market today, offers a variety of transcriptions of songs found in collections from the British Isles as well as discoveries Grainger heard as he roamed throughout the field. The album concludes with Grainger's most celebrated piece, English Country Gardens, in which Claire makes a cameo appearance on piano, joining Christopher in a rousing duet.

“Claire Booth and Christopher Glynn have nurtured a love of Grainger’s folk song transcriptions and re-compositions since university days 20 years ago. Now the love has exploded onto this CD, a cunning arrangement of 11 vocal and seven instrumental tracks throbbing with Grainger’s idiosyncratic genius for creating miniature masterpieces of human anguish and delight” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 **

“The clear-voiced British soprano captures the wit and whimsy of the Australian-born maverick to perfection, despatching the folk-song settings with unaffected simplicity before joining her accompanist at the keyboard for the piano duet version of Grainger's best-known arrangement, Country Gardens.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, April 2017

“Booth and Glynn beautifully manage the contrasts between simplicity and immense sophistication that all these songs regularly provide; it makes a really engaging sequence.” The Guardian, 26th April 2017 ****

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Hoddinott: Landscapes

Hoddinott: Landscapes

Song Cycles and Folksongs


Hoddinott:

Landscapes (Ynys Môn), Op. 87

One Must Always Have Love, Op. 152, No. 3

Two Songs from Glamorgan

The Silver Hound, Op. 121

Towy Landscape, Op. 190

Six Welsh Folksongs


Claire Booth (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone), Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano primo) & Michael Pollock (piano secondo)

Andrew Matthews-Owen talks to Presto's David Smith about the recording here.

Alun Hoddinott dominated musical life in his native Wales for over half a century. One of the most versatile and gifted composers of his generation he excelled in all genres, from operas and symphonies to piano sonatas. This recording brings together all of his songs for high voice and piano, revealing the vivid atmosphere he was able to evoke in each setting. It includes his Six Welsh Folksongs and his last vocal work, Towy Landscape, for soprano, baritone and piano duet, Hoddinott’s epilogue to a lifetime of writing for the voice.

This is another of the discs released by Naxos that were originally issued by the British Music Society on their own label [BMS437CD]. Alun Hoddinott is Wales’ greatest composer, versatile, prolific and international in outlook. Cardiff’s new major concert hall is named in his honour. Songs play an important role in his output, many for high voice – this was the first disc to bring together all his songs for high voice and piano, but also includes his arrangements of Welsh Folksongs and his last work, for soprano, baritone and piano called Towy Landscape. This will appeal strongly to lovers of British song on disc.

“Hoddinott's accompaniments never mask the vocal line, so that Spence's bright young tenor and crystal-clear diction ring out as clear as a bell.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“This release...displays Hoddinott’s vocal writing at its best.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

“a welcome reminder of his prowess as a prolific setter of English words. Like his friend Benjamin Britten, he was inspired by particular singers...Spence, who bears the brunt of the set with immaculate diction and musicianship, and Claire Booth are worthy successors.” Sunday Times, 21st June 2015

“Spence’s clear and incandescent voice has ringing tone and laser-like intensity, but it’s not just a splendid sound; his reading of the songs shows discriminating interpretive skill...As with their volume of Dove songs, Matthews-Owen is the star of the show. He handles Hoddinott’s filigree textures with delicacy, its declamatory thundering with authority.” American Record Guide, March 2015

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Augusta Read Thomas: Of Being is a Bird

Augusta Read Thomas: Of Being is a Bird


Thomas, Augusta:

Helix Spirals for string quartet

World Premiere Recording

Parker Quartet

Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals)

Octet for percussion quartet and string quartet. World Premiere Recording

Third Coast Percussion & Spektral Quartet

Capricious Toccata for solo violin

World Premiere Recording

Nathan Giem (violin)

Of Being is a Bird (Emily Dickinson Settings)

For solo soprano and ensemble. Live performance recorded at the premiere, Wigmore Hall, London 7 July 2015

Claire Booth (soprano)

Aurora Orchestra, Nicholas Collon

Caprice for solo violin

Nathan Cole (violin)

Rush for solo violin

Nathan Cole (violin)

Love Twitters

Irving Berlin’s ‘they say it is wonderful’ arrangement by Augusta Read Thomas

Nicola Melville (piano)


This CD, the sixth instalment in this series documenting Augusta Read Thomas' work in all its protean variety, is dominated by some of her most recent music. Except for the last 3 brief works on this programme, which date from 2004-06, the music gathered here dates from 2014-15, effectively turning this CD into a kind of compositional diary for these years.

The New Yorker Magazine called Thomas "a true virtuoso composer.” Rising early to the top of her profession, a member of both The American Academy of Arts and Letters and Academy of Arts and Sciences, former Chairperson of the American Music Center, Thomas has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music. A Member of the Conseil Musical of the Foundation Prince Pierre of Monaco, she has won a Grammy and received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. Her composition Astral Canticle was one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

“Irresistible forward drive, pausing only for moments of radiant beauty.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - July 2016

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Wigglesworth: Echo and Narcissus

Wigglesworth: Echo and Narcissus


Wigglesworth:

Augenlieder

A First Book of Inventions

Echo and Narcissus

Violin Concerto

Locke's Theatre


Claire Booth (soprano), Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Barnabás Kelemen (violin), Ryan Wigglesworth (conductor/piano)

RSVP VOICES & Hallé

Ryan Wigglesworth, Principal Guest Conductor of the Hallé, conducts his own orchestral works in this first full-length portrait album of his compositions. The album includes the powerful Echo and Narcissus, whose premiere was one of the highlights of the 2014 Aldeburgh Festival. Superbly performed by tenor Mark Padmore and mezzo Pamela Helen Stephen, with the enlarged female semi-chorus and the multi-talented Ryan Wigglesworth on piano, this piece sets Ted Hughes' text 'Echo and Narcissus' from his Tales from Ovid.

The poem ‘Keep your eyes open’ by John Berryman is married with poems by Robert Browning, Egon Schiele and Arthur Rimbaud in the song cycle Augenlieder, written for and performed by soprano Claire Booth, with the Hallé. The work receive the vocal prize at the 2010 British Composer Awards. Locke’s Theatre was commissioned for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Aldeburgh Festival to celebrate Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday. Aware of Britten’s own revival and adoption of English music, Wigglesworth has drawn inspiration from Matthew Locke, the leading English stage composer in the period before Purcell. Wigglesworth presents arrangements of three of Locke's movements, interspersed with his own musical responses.

Other works on this disc are the Violin Concerto, performed by Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelleman and A First Book of Inventions for chamber orchestra.

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BCMG 2013 Sampler: New Music for New Ears

BCMG 2013 Sampler: New Music for New Ears


Claire Booth (soprano), Simon Haram (saxophone), Simon Russell Beale (narrator), Hilary Summers (contralto), Lore Lixenberg (mezzo-soprano), Mary Carewe (soprano), Malcolm Wilson (piano)

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Oliver Knussen, James Weeks, Christopher Austin, Martyn Brabbins, Susanna Malkki, Stefan Asbury

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Webern: Vocal & Chamber Works

Webern: Vocal & Chamber Works


Schoenberg:

Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9

Sooyun Kim (flute), Charles Neidich (clarinet), Leila Josefowicz (violin), Fred Sherry (cello), Orion Weiss (piano)

Webern:

Fünf Lieder, Op. 3 from “Der siebente Ring”

Tony Arnold (soprano), Jacob Greenberg (piano)

Fünf Lieder, Op. 4

Tony Arnold (soprano), Jacob Greenberg (piano)

Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, Op. 9 (1911-1913)

Fred Sherry String Quartet

Vier Lieder, Op. 12

Tony Arnold (soprano), Jacob Greenberg (piano)

Drei Gesänge, Op. 23

Tony Arnold (soprano), Jacob Greenberg (piano)

Drei Lieder, Op. 25

Tony Arnold (soprano), Jacob Greenberg (piano)

String Quartet, Op. 28 (1937-38)

Fred Sherry String Quartet

Cantata No.1 for Soprano Chorus and Orchestra op.29

Claire Booth (soprano)

Simon Joly Chorale, Philharmonia Orchestra, Robert Craft


Purity of sound and perfect craftsmanship marked Webern’s journey from his intensely expressive early songs through to the new perspectives cultivated in his Opp. 23 and 25 settings. Webern ‘rehabilitated the power of sound’ and in so doing broke new ground in the Bagatelles for string quartet and in the String Quartet, Op. 28. This recording is rounded off with the powerful Cantata, Op. 29 and Webern’s 1923 arrangement of Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, Op. 9. This release completes Robert Craft’s second Webern cycle.

“What all the songs have in common...is brevity: each is a perfectly etched miniature, a nugget of impacted lyricism, and Arnold unwraps them with immense care.” The Guardian, 6th May 2015 ****

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Charlotte Bray: At The Speed Of Stillness

Charlotte Bray: At The Speed Of Stillness


Bray, C:

At the Speed of Stillness

Fire Burning in Snow

Oneiroi

Replay

Yellow Leaves


Lucy Schaufer (mezzo-soprano), Alexandra Wood (violin), Claire Booth (soprano), Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano), Huw Watkins (piano)

Aldeburgh World Orchestra & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Sir Mark Elder & Oliver Knussen

Andrew Matthews-Owen talks to Presto's David Smith about the recording here.

Debut Discs is a 4-year series in collaboration with BA (Hons) Graphic Design students at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design who have designed the cover artwork for the series.

Debut Discs has the ambassadorial support of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

The series so far features the composers Huw Watkins, Dai Fujikura, Sam Hayden, Richard Causton, Joseph Phibbs, Larry Goves, Ben Foskett and Helen Grime.

Born in the UK in 1982, Charlotte Bray studied with Joe Cutler and graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with First Class Honours. Then, with Mark Anthony Turnage, she completed her Masters at the Royal College of Music in 2008 gaining a Distinction. She studied at Tanglewood Music Centre in 2008, and in 2011 was made an Honorary Member of Birmingham Conservatoire. She has won numerous prizes, including the RPS composition prize in 2010.

During Bray’s residency with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (2009/10), Alexandra Wood premiered her violin concerto Caught in Treetops under Oliver Knussen. The concerto appeared also in Aldeburgh Festival’s closing concert in 2011.

Bayan Northcott writes … Charlotte Bray was 21 when she took to composing in earnest. Yet in scarcely more than a decade, she has built up a substantial catalogue of works in almost all the standard genres; built up, too, a professional reputation of a composer who works hard and always delivers. Not least, she has refined a compositional style and practice for herself, neither explicitly tonal nor atonal, but always cogent in its harmonic unfolding – token of an independent spirit from which much may be expected.

“These six works by a new British composer (b1982) attest a sharp ear and a vigorous imagination...Inspired by the image of hidden dynamism Bray finds in Sizewell power station and its radial treetop power lines, the music’s inventiveness and textural control are unmistakeable.” Sunday Times, 19th October 2014

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The English Song Series Volume 23 - Jonathan Dove Song Cycles

The English Song Series Volume 23 - Jonathan Dove Song Cycles


Dove:

Out of Winter

Cut My Shadow

World Première Recording

Ariel

All You Who Sleep Tonight

World Première Recording


Claire Booth (soprano), Patricia Bardon (mezzo-soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor) & Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano)

Andrew Matthews-Owen talks to Presto's David Smith about the recording here.

Jonathan Dove is one of Britain’s most resourceful and versatile contemporary composers, whose affinity for vocal setting is especially striking. From the operatic canvas of his acclaimed Flight to his song cycles, his acutely perceptive approach to texts is unmistakeable. Out of Winter, written in collaboration with Dove, is the late Sir Robert Tear’s poetic response to Thomas Hardy’s Winter Words. Cut My Shadow is a powerful and harrowing setting of three Lorca texts notable for a sense of constant unease and longing for a homeland. All You Who Sleep Tonight, to poems by Vikram Seth, is elegant, moving, and witty whilst Ariel explores Shakespeare’s elusive character from The Tempest in a rôle for unaccompanied soprano.

“[Dove] is one of the most vivid painters of words in music today... That much becomes clear with Out of Winter...Dove's 20-minute cycle, characterfully sung by Nicky Spence, casts a spell - not least in the ecstatic finale, where pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen contributes to the theatrical atmosphere...Claire Booth, unaccompanied, animates Ariel's bewitching narrative, whilst mezzo Patricia Bardon explores the amorous moods, alternately playful and sultry, of All You Who Sleep Tonight.” Financial Times, August 2014 ****

“Apart from his excellent booklet notes, Andrew Matthews-Owen is a superlative pianist, and he is well treated by the resonant recording. Throughout these cycles one is grateful to encounter a composer whose writing for the voice, and his understanding of its technique, is so approachable.” MusicWeb International, 13th October 2014

“If you want to find out what has happened to English song since Britten, this is as good a place to start as any...Spence puts [Out of Winter] across with Pears-like point...Matthews-Owen is the supportive accompanist. Here are four highly imaginative new song-cycles, each deserving of a life of its own.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2014

“Matthews-Owen is an immaculate accompanist, showing a particularly clean pair of fingers in the dashing virtuosity of Song III. The unaccompanied Ariel...is like opera without the orchestra, and soprano Claire Booth shows a technical accomplishment comparable to Spence’s in meeting its many challenges…this is a richly stimulating recital.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014

“It is to the credit of the three singers here and pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen that they completely understand the delicate balance between pushing an object into motion and guiding it throughout the course of its natural vector. Then they pull their hands away; and leave us wanting more. Equally noteworthy is the extent to which pianist and singer create almost orchestral sonorities…” Classical Net, September 2014

“Spence has a beautiful lyric tenor which he uses with great facility and always to expressive ends...The piano playing of Matthews-Owen is full partner in the music writing in this and the other cycles for voice and piano...I cannot imagine anyone with an interest in singing, or music for voice and piano, or young singers, or British music not responding to this.” Fanfare

“All three singers are very good, particularly Spence, but the star of [the] show is Matthews-Owen. So much of the effectiveness of these songs lies in Dove's inventive piano writing with its cross rhythms and shifting patterns.” American Record Guide

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2014

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Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia


Angelika Kirchschlager (Lucretia), Peter Coleman-Wright (Tarquinius), Ian Bostridge (Male Chorus), Susan Gritton (Female Chorus), Christopher Purves (Collatinus), Benjamin Russell (Junius), Claire Booth (Lucia), Hilary Summers (Bianca)

Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Oliver Knussen

Recorded live in 2011 at the Aldeburgh Festival, which Benjamin Britten founded in 1948, this performance of his dark, intense chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia stars Angelika Kirchschlager, Peter Coleman-Wright and Ian Bostridge, with Oliver Knussen conducting. “Everything, without exception, was right on the money,” said The Guardian,” ... a dazzling success.”

Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia was given its premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1946, with Kathleen Ferrier in the leading role. The composer founded his own festival two years later in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, where he and Peter Pears had a home. This recording is drawn from a concert given in June 2011 at Aldeburgh’s acoustically superb Snape Maltings.

“As this brilliantly vivid, impassioned concert performance reminded us,” wrote The Telegraph, “Lucretia is a problematic and disturbing piece. It's hard to think of another opera where the opposite poles of male violence and tender female intimacy are made so vividly real in purely musical terms, and brought into such horrifying proximity.”

Representing those opposite poles are the Australian baritone Peter Coleman-Wright as the Roman prince Tarquinius and the Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager as Lucretia, the chaste wife of a Roman general. She commits suicide after Tarquinius has raped her, but, in an interview with The Independent Kirchschlager explained that: "There is absolutely a subtext. Lucretia is not happy where she is; both she and Tarquinius are longing for something more. People are not black and white: we long for things we don't allow ourselves. Perhaps these two should be a real couple, but circumstances have determined that they can't be together. You have to look carefully at the words and at every nuance Britten wrote, and it makes sense. They are both incredibly passionate people and Lucretia is a strong woman. I never see her as a victim."

Joining them in the cast are some of Britain’s finest singers, including Ian Bostridge as the Male Chorus, Susan Gritton as the Female Chorus and, as Collatinus, Christopher Purves; the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble is conducted by Oliver Knussen.

The Guardian felt that the performance succeeded in “revealing the score as one of Britten's richest ... Everything, without exception, was right on the money. Bostridge and Gritton vied with each other for clarity of diction and gesture, while Kirchschlager's magnificent Lucretia was direct and powerfully sympathetic. Claire Booth and Hilary Summers, as maid and nurse respectively, sent the mellifluous flower duet wafting seductively around the Maltings' rafters. Best of all was the orchestra, revelling in its extraordinary palette of colours, and showing how the score so often hangs like gossamer off the vocal lines. Oliver Knussen conducted neatly, precisely and economically – in short, giving his players and singers everything they needed to make Britten's return to Aldeburgh a dazzling success.”

“Britten's amazingly inventive score was played with scalding intensity by the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble under Oliver Knussen,” enthused The Telegraph, while The Independent, describing the opera as “a masterpiece of psychological and musical acuity”, observed that: “Ian Bostridge and Angelika Kirchschlager, as the Male Chorus and protagonist, gave it a searing, declamatory force. But its chief glory lies in the menacing beauty of its orchestral sound: the textures which Oliver Knussen extracted from the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble repeatedly took the breath away.” Likewise, The Sunday Times praised “Oliver Knussen's incisive and compelling conducting. He clearly believes in every note of the often ravishingly beautiful and coruscatingly violent score.”

“Knussen draws out not only the pungency of Britten’s language but also its almost touchable beauty and Mediterranean warmth...Kirchschlager is a Lucretia of contrasting purity and sensuousness...All in all, it’s hard to imagine a more welcome addition to the Britten discography in his centenary year.” Financial Times, 12th January 2013 ****

“[the score] emerges more pungent and fiercely dramatic than I've ever heard it before...the protagonists in the drama are presented in all their contradictions...this performance is surely the best of recent times, redemptive in a way that the work itself can never be.” The Guardian, 17th January 2013 *****

“I have rarely been as conscious of the salivating voyeurism with which the librettist Ronald Duncan describes the rape as in Ian Bostridge’s brilliantly creepy singing of the Male Chorus’s graphic description of Tarquinius’s rampant machismo, nor as gripped and moved as by Angelika Kirchschlager’s feisty but fruitless self-defence...Knussen’s conducting is exemplary.” Sunday Times, 3rd February 2013

“Although the story's brutality inevitably means that any performance of Lucretia is uncomfortable, Knussen and company ensure that Britten's score shines in a radiantly positive light, offsetting the skin-crawling nastiness with musical beauty” Graham Rogers, bbc.co.uk, 6th February 2013

“the opera’s musical strengths stand taller than ever before, helped by the vivid accompaniment of the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble...Kirchschlager’s heroine combines sensuous appeal with gut-wrenching horror, while Peter Coleman-Wright’s bestial Tarquinius definitely belongs behind bars...Overall, the recording’s triumph is to make the opera seem horrible, certainly, but not inhumane.” The Times, 1st March 2013 ****

“Without hurrying, Knussen conducts a tight, vivid account, surpassing Britten's own...Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton as Male and Female Chorus project their rhetorical commentaries with exemplary diction...Kirchschlager's passionate, full-voiced Lucretia is beautifully balanced by Claire Booth's bright Lucia and Hilary Summers's more mature Bianca.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2013 *****

“The folding of the linen is a real highlight of this recording, a definite improvement on Britten’s own reading in its sense of timeless suspension... Knussen yields nothing whatsoever to Britten in his careful pacing of the score, and the newer recording does enable us to hear details that were muffled before...a tremendous recording for a new generation” MusicWeb International, April 2013

“Knussen's keen sense of pacing tells in the grip of the drama...[Kirchschlager] is the lightning rod for the electricity of the drama...she creates a Lucretia entirely her own - not so much a formal classical Greek heroine, more a modern woman whose feelings are very close to the surface...this new Virgin set ranks as one of the very best of the new generation of Britten opera recordings.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2013

“an absolutely riveting account...Bostridge is spellbinding from the very first bars in the Evangelist-like role of the Male Chorus, wringing every drop of terror and beauty from his narrative: in fact what makes this recording so special is the balance it strikes between the brutal and the lyrical elements of Britten’s score...Kirchschlager sings a passionate and distinctly unmatronly Lucretia.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 24th December 2012

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - April 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Opera Finalist

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Oliver Knussen: Autumnal

Oliver Knussen: Autumnal


Knussen:

Choral

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

Autumnal

Alexandra Wood (violin) & Huw Watkins (piano)

Whitman Settings

Claire Booth (soprano) & Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)

Secret Psalm

Alexandra Wood (violin)

Prayer Bell Sketch

Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)

Violin Concerto

Leila Josefowicz (violin)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

Requiem: Songs for Sue

Claire Booth (soprano)

BCMG, Oliver Knussen

Ophelia's Last Dance

Huw Watkins (piano)


Knussen started composing at the age of 6. In 1968, aged 15 he stepped in to conduct his Symphony's premiere at the Royal Festival Hall after István Kertész fell ill. Upon hearing this, Daniel Barenboim asked him to conduct the work's first two movements in New York a week later.

Composer/conductor Oliver Knussen celebrates his 60th birthday this year.

This disc features the dynamically virtuosic violinist Leila Josefowicz, who has worked with many of today's leading composers – including John Adams and Oliver Knussen – and is a strong advocate of new music.

Oliver Knussen is a huge infl uence on the contemporary British music scene - not only as composer, but as conductor, teacher, programmer and artistic director. Despite having started composing as a teenager, his oeuvre is relatively small – partly due to his busy schedule as a conductor (he must surely hold the record for premiere performances!), but also because every bar he writes is measured against all the music that he knows and loves.

This new recording, to celebrate Olly's 60th birthday, is a chronological tour of his work, starting with the brooding orchestral Choral, and the poetic Autumnal for violin (both written in the 1970s), through to Ophelia's Last Dance from 2010. Requiem: Songs for Sue, was written following the death of his wife in 2003, and sets texts by poets who were important to them both – from Emily Dickinson's poem to her sister Sue, "Is it true, dear Sue?" to works by Antonio Machado, WH Auden and Rainer Maria Rilke – the latter translated by Olly's friend and musical collaborator Alexander Goehr.

Also on this disc is a live recording of Knussen's luminous Violin Concerto, performed at the BBC Proms by one of the world's exemplary soloists (and ex-Chanel model) Leila Josefowicz.

“The performances, several from the artists such as Josefowicz and Claire Booth for whom the works were written, are superb, and much of the music ranks among the finest composed in this country in recent decades.” The Guardian, 26th September 2012 *****

“this CD should do more than any live performance to tell the world what a treasure he is. The Walton-esque Violin Concerto, Knussen’s masterpiece, is played with dazzling artistry by Josefowicz...[the Requiem is] sung with nightingale seductiveness by Claire Booth.” Financial Times, 20th October 2012 ****

“an enthralling tribute to one of the greatest of contemporary composers...This disc offers us contemporary music to swoon over...Knussen’s ear for colour rarely falters...He can suggest music of the past without ever resorting to parody...This is music which just works. Try and whistle back the melodies, and you’d struggle, but Knussen’s skills as an orchestrator and architect always win the listener over.” The Arts Desk, 2nd December 2012

“Claire Booth brilliantly manages the music's kaleidoscopic shifts of rhetorical focus and is equally successful in the earlier group of Whitman settings, given here in the version with piano accompaniment.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

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