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Macmillan: Stabat Mater

Macmillan: Stabat Mater


 

Stabat Mater (plainsong)

MacMillan:

Stabat Mater

world premiere recording


Read our exclusive interviews with James MacMillan and Harry Christophers about the project.

Includes the world premiere recording of James MacMillan's Stabat Mater.

Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of Sir James MacMillan, and performances of his new Stabat Mater are eagerly anticipated. The Sixteen gave the world premiere of this work at a series of concerts in October 2016 as well as recording the work for their own record label, CORO. For MacMillan, 'beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith' and the Stabat Mater is sure to be profoundly shaped by his beliefs. But this is a work with deep roots and a universal message, a celebration of both tradition and radical renewal.

“his Stabat Mater is both moving and original in its word-setting and especially in its creation of atmosphere” classicalsource.com, February 2017 ****

“It’s a devastatingly powerful evocation of Mary’s agony, balancing impassioned choral writing with equally intense, occasionally violent, work for the strings of the Britten Sinfonia...Wonderfully sung; profoundly moving.” The Guardian, 12th March 2017 ****

“There is deference to the power of plainsong in the chanted opening, the timelessness of which feeds into the sublime harmonic journey of the ensuing movements. MacMillan’s unfolding of the text and its instrumental halo are masterfully judged. I defy any atheist not to be moved by such a profound musical interpretation of religious belief.” The Scotsman, 10th April 2017 *****

“…without doubt the work's impact is immeasurably heightened by the exceptional performance it receives here…Christopher's adoration of MacMillan's Stabat Mater radiates out of every moment of this compelling performance…the Britten Sinfonia have tremendously incisve rhythmic bite.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“This is an amazing high emotion choral masterpiece in MacMillan's distinctive style, incredibly difficult for the singers and the string orchestra. The recording was made October 31 / November 1, 2016 in London's St. Augustine's Church, and engineers have captured the rich sounds of the venue in proper perspective…An important issue!” Classical CD Review, April 2017

“Macmillan’s visceral approach to word-setting can generate genuine and immediate emotional involvement in his listeners…Warmly recommended.” Choir & Organ, May 2017 *****

“His vivid, trenchant string writing is realised with striking clarity by the Britten Sinfonia in this recording, made just a fortnight after the same performers gave the world premiere last October in London. The Sixteen’s singing is predictably high in quality. Cries, shouts, whispers, glissandos, episodes of ululating melisma, all feature…in [MacMillan’s] quest to render musically the visceral emotional content of the Stabat Mater” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“Even though I am sure there is much more in this Stabat Mater than I have yet discerned I am already confident that it is a masterpiece. It should be heard by anyone who values eloquent contemporary music.” MusicWeb International, 30th May 2017

“Its stark but searing beauty is brilliantly illuminated by the powerfully nuanced voices of The Sixteen and the poetically rich accompaniment of the Britten Sinfonia, by turns cosseting and excoriating.” Classical Ear, 21st June 2017 *****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2017

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Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres

Part Songs of the British Isles


Bingham, J:

The Drowned Lovers

Bridge:

In Autumn

Music, when Soft Voices Die

The Bee

Chilcott:

The Modern Man I Sing

Elgar:

Four Part-songs Op. 53

Harvey, J:

Song of June

Murrill:

O Mistress Mine

Come Away, Death

Stanford:

The Blue Bird, Op. 119 No. 3

On Time

Vaughan Williams:

Three Shakespeare Songs

Walker, E:

Soft Music, Op. 48


Read David's exclusive interview with Nigel Short about the project here.

Internationally-renowned chamber choir Tenebrae return with a new collection of British part songs and choral works. As well as being a celebration of compositions by British composers, the disc also marks Shakespeare’s anniversary year with a selection of works based on his texts, including the much loved works by Vaughan Williams and a lesser-known set by Herbert Murrill. Perhaps the least recognisable composer name on this disc, Murrill (1909-1952) is one of a select group of composers who – through war or ill-health – died at a tragically young age and whose works were subsequently neglected during the second half of the century.

“Tenebrae’s tone is set by the purity of their top line.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“A spooky, flickering account of Elgar’s Owls underlines the ability of Short and his outstandingly responsive singers to create riveting atmosphere, and communicate to the listener the import and implications of a song’s narrative…[an] intelligently assembled, superbly sung collection” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“beautifully performed and recorded … Tenebrae’s youthful sound is not only irresistibly appealing but also extremely well suited to this very enjoyable programme. A fine achievement.” Choir & Organ, January 2017 *****

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice

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Adams & Harris Violin Concertos

Adams & Harris Violin Concertos


Adams, J:

Violin Concerto

Harris, Roy:

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra


Violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen continues her series of concerto recordings on Signum with two contrasting works by American composers.

Already considered by many to be a modern classic, John Adams 1993 Violin Concerto was described by the composer as having a ‘hypermelody’, in which the soloist plays longs phrases without stop for the duration of the 35 minute piece. Although composed in 1949, the first performance of Roy Harris’s Violin Concerto didn’t occur until 1984. Since then it has been championed for its “luminous orchestration and exalted tone”.

For this recording Tamsin Waley-Cohen is joined by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under American conductor Andrew Litton.

“Roy Harris may be the most all-American composer you have never heard of...Waley-Cohen handles [the Adams's] gruelling solo part with athleticism and conviction, and both pieces benefit from the punchy playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and insightful conducting of Andrew Litton.” The Guardian, 29th September 2016 ***

“It’s a very welcome work, with much to like, to be thrilled and moved by, and is given here with commitment and colour by all concerned.” classicalsource.com

“Tamsin Waley-Cohen brings the lyrical sweetness and breadth of tone Harris needs, while the sweeping vistas and exuberant rhythms are supplied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton.” Record Review

“There is some tremendous playing from Waley-Cohen … with impressive accuracy from both soloist and orchestra, a real rapport … This is a fabulous performance of a very fine concerto. These two concertos sit remarkably well together. The recording is excellent as are the booklet notes.” The Classical Reviewer

“Her interpretation [of the Adams] is technically beyond reproach and musically imaginative. What makes this recording indispensible is the coupling...Harris’s Concerto is a major (re-)discovery, and Waley-Cohen outclasses Fulkerson’s pioneering version in every respect. Andrew Litton and the BBC Symphony provide superb, supple support.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“Waley-Cohen brings magnetic performances and an enthusiast’s passion to this splendid disc…his Violin Concerto duly bubbles with folk melodies, modal harmonies and open-hearted expression, and Waley-Cohen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra bring tremendous warmth and verve to their performance…[her] laser-bright tone and effortless agility drives this outstanding account” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“very welcome new recordings full of verve and vigour … Waley Cohen plays vigorously throughout … an essential listen.” Classical Music, December 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

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Musica Viva 22

Musica Viva 22


Benjamin, G:

Palimpsests

Ligeti:

Lontano

Murail:

Le Désenchantement Du Monde. Concerto Symphonique Pour Piano Et Orchestre


When the first concert of the series founded by the composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann (later designated as musica viva) took place at Munich's Prince Regent's Theatre on 7 October 1945, it marked the birth of an important new cultural event in post-war Germany.

Up to the present day, this oldest concert series for New Music still brings together the world's most important artists - conductors and interpreters alike - in the field of new and the newest music, also continuing to set new standards for the interpretation of new classical music with the outstanding Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The SACD presented here is a good example of this: Ligeti's Lontano - a classic! Murail's Piano Concerto completed in 2012 - interpreted by Pierre-Laurent Aimard - and Benjamin's Palimpsests of 2002. All three works conducted by George Benjamin himself - one can't do any better than that!

“This is special. Three utterly captivating, ear-tickling pieces by composers from successive generations in superlative performances…the centrepiece of the disc is the world premiere performance of Tristan Murail’s impressive piano concerto Le désenchantement du monde with the ever-sensational Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist…an enthralling masterpiece” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“Benjamin leads a superlative performance [of Lontano], one surprisingly visceral for a piece about distance…the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra supply more immediacy, with a richness that they might also deploy in, say, Strauss…Benjamin’s own Palimpsests come off well, too, and again the Bavarians’ playing is special…Aimard is as strong an advocate as always [in Le désenchantement du monde], and Murail devotees should not hesitate” Gramophone Magazine

“Surging and glinting, mystical and meditative, this work [Le Désenchantement du monde] is altogether intriguing.” Sunday Times, 25th September 2016

“Benjamin’s performance of Ligeti’s Lontano, a 20th-century classic, is exceptional for its transparency and its wonderfully controlled sense of mystery...Like all the best music, [Benjamin's] Palimpsests makes up its own structural rules as it goes along, defining its aims and achieving them with total success.” The Guardian, 8th September 2016 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Contemporary

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Stabat Mater: Sacred Choral Music by Lennox and Michael Berkeley

Stabat Mater: Sacred Choral Music by Lennox and Michael Berkeley


Berkeley, L:

Stabat Mater

Mass for Five Voices, Op. 64

Judica me

Berkeley, M:

Touch Light


The Marian Consort, Berkeley Ensemble, David Wordsworth

Read Katherine's exclusive interview with David Wordsworth about the project here.

Lennox Berkeley’s Stabat Mater derives from one of the most fertile and inspired periods of his compositional life. A masterpiece, and until now the last of his major works to go unrecorded, it was written for a concert tour by his close friend Benjamin Britten’s English Opera Group; hence the unusual but effective scoring for six solo voices and twelve instrumentalists. Delphian artists The Marian Consort – with five acclaimed discs of early music to their credit – now show their versatility in a cappella and accompanied music by both Lennox and his son Michael Berkeley. They are partnered in the larger works by the Berkeley Ensemble, whose performances are enriched by their intimate knowledge of these composers’ music. The same can be said of conductor David Wordsworth, who has known and worked with both composers, and who here realises a long-cherished ambition to direct this important addition to the catalogue.

“This is a very important disc in that it presents an unjustly neglected English vocal work of the highest quality; furthermore, the performance is superb... Admirers of Lennox Berkeley’s music should put this disc at the top of their shopping list.” MusicWeb International, July 2016

“Stabat Mater shows Lennox Berkeley at his most beguilingly austere, with quasi-medieval vocal writing — Rory McCleery's alto solo is outstanding — fastidiously embroidered by chamber ensemble.” Sunday Times, 17th July 2016

“There’s earnest beauty in it and the instrumental playing on this recording is spot on – the Berkeley Ensemble under David Wordsworth clinches the balance of chaste, plaintive and urgent” The Guardian, 28th July 2016 ***

“An inspired and moving major work... by turns eerie, poignant and powerful.” Classical Music, August 2016

“An enlightening and enriching release, which is also excellent in terms of recording and presentation.” classicalsource.com, October 2016 *****

“The Marian Consort’s background in early music pays dividends in their superb precision of pitch, impeccable rhythmic placing and beautiful diction…the lush harmonies that open [Judica me] are sumptuously delivered and beautifully recorded” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

“You are left in no doubt of the agony of the crucifixion in the vocal and horn climax of the opening chorus of Stabat Mater... intense and riveting.” The Times, 4th December 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Choral

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Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto

Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto


Matthews, C:

Violin Concerto

Recorded live by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Proms

Leila Josefowicz (violin)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

Cortège

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Riccardo Chailly

Cello Concerto No. 2

Anssi Karttunen (cello)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Rumon Gamba


To celebrate Colin Matthews' 70th birthday we release this new album featuring a star-studded line-up of artists, including conductors Riccardo Chailly, Oliver Knussen, Rumon Gamba, and soloists Leila Josefowicz (violin) and Anssi Karttunen (cello).

Over four decades Colin's output of over 130 works has ranged from solo piano music through five string quartets and many ensemble and orchestral works. This album showcases three of his large-scale orchestral pieces; the dark, Mahlerian Cortège (1988) being the earliest work recorded here. Matthews’ Violin Concerto (2009) was composed for Leila Josefowicz and Colin says it “emerged naturally from her musical personality, style and technique”. Matthews’ Cello Concerto No.2 (1996) was composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave its first performance with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis at the Barbican, London, on 17 September 1996.

Three great works, then, to celebrate the three score and ten of a remarkable musical polymath.

“[Leila Josefowicz has] unlocked a sensuous outpouring from Matthews, a concerto of lithe purpose and natural flow…the fearless Josefowicz brings her unique improvisatory energy, finding exuberant equals in Oliver Knussen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 ****

“Lyrically rewarding and memorably orchestrated with the textures constantly shifting.” CD Review

“the Violin Concerto (2009) and the Cello Concerto No.2 (1996) - inhabit a world half way between Berg and Britten, where nervy, restless detail in the background gives way to a core of expressive lyricism.” Financial Times

“Josefowicz is superb – radiant and pointed – in the concerto written for her. Cortège is colossal; and Karttunen dexterously finds his way through the Second Cello Concerto.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“[Cortège's] dark, drum-beating, funereal character has, paradoxically perhaps, a more direct appeal than the Violin Concerto (2009), given by the brilliant Leila Josefowicz...The large-scale Cello Concerto No 2 (1996), written for Rostropovich, finds a fine exponent in Anssi Karttunen” Sunday Times, 29th May 2016

“Josefowicz, for whom Matthews tailored [the Concerto], soars high above the orchestra as if on a thermal...[Cortège is] sombre but driven – monumental, yes, but one somehow feels inside the monument rather than gazing on it.” The Guardian, 23rd June 2016 ****

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

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MacMillan: Since it was the day of preparation…

MacMillan: Since it was the day of preparation…


Brindley Sherratt (bass)

Hebrides Ensemble, Synergy Vocals

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here, and David's exclusive interview with James MacMillan about the work here.

The first disc in a new recording partnership between Hebrides Ensemble and Delphian Records presents Sir James MacMillan's extraordinary setting - by turns intimate and dramatic - of the Resurrection story as told in St John's Gospel. As at the work's premiere at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival, the Ensemble and its director William Conway (the work's dedicatee) are joined by bass Brindley Sherratt in the role of Christ, and by a quartet of

singers from Synergy Vocals. A significant landmark in MacMillan's career, Since it was the day of Preparation … now inaugurates a series of recordings set to document Hebrides Ensemble's outstanding contribution to Scottish cultural life.

“Sherratt is very fine as Christ. The music he has to sing is dignified and eloquent and Sherratt puts it across with great conviction...No less impressive are the four members of Synergy Vocals, whether singing as a consort or individually. All four voices are clear, both in terms of tone and diction; they are ideally suited to the music.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

“Since it was the day of preparation is on the face of it a chamber piece, with just ten performers needed. Yet in an extraordinarily perceptive and affecting manner it broaches enduring universal issues and, in this wonderfully committed recording, already feels like a modern masterpiece.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 *****

“the writing is always idiomatic and shows the players’ abilities off well...[The vocalists] sing in a style that seems natural and eternal when one hears it, despite being completely new – a fusion of Gregorian chant and MacMillan’s Scottish-inflected, ornamented idiom...This is an incredible piece, and I firmly believe it’s destined to become one of MacMillan’s most-performed works.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 24th June 2016

“Macmillan's work is a musically entertaining, dramatically satisfying piece of theatre, not a dull slab of dutiful contemplation... this is as authoritative a reading as we're ever likely to hear.” The Arts Desk, July 2016

“Here we have the latest in a stream of major works which express [MacMillan’s] deeply held Catholicism, and for my money it is by far and away the most effective...The Hebrides Ensemble provide eloquent testimony to the sustained impact of MacMillan’s writing.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“extraordinary and surprisingly intimate...Macmillan somehow manages to blend the feel of plainchant with his own kind of Celtic ornamentation. It's lean, spare, intimate, startingly beautiful, and with an atmosphere that stays with you after the final quintet froom Hebrides Ensemble has drifted out of reach.” Record Review, July 2016

“MacMillan’s boldly intimate setting of the post-crucifixion narrative of St John’s Gospel veers from Schütz-like austerity to lush piety. Some of the finest music comes in the instrumental interludes...Excellent performances throughout.” Sunday Times, 28th August 2016

“a spellbinding experience.” Choir & Organ

“One is left wondering how such modest musical resources have achieved such significant impact on the listener. It's as though MacMillan captured the essence of sanctity in his conception where the apparently unassuming has a significant impact... thoroughly recommended.” Classical Net

Presto Disc of the Week

24th June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2016

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Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6

Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6


Nørgård:

Symphony No. 2

Symphony No. 6 'At the End of the Day'


“I feel each of my symphonies is a whole continentin itself,” the Danish composer PerNørgård(b. 1932) has said. His music stems from an insatiable urge to explore thepheno menaof the world and the possibilities of music, and his eight symphonies stand as milestones along the course of six decades. This recording with the Oslo Philharmonicconducted by JohnStorgårdspresents Per Nørgård’sSecondSymphony, in which the composer unfolds his famous ‘infinity principle’ euphorically and almost psychedelically, and his Sixth Symphony, in which the mature composer proves more exploratory andplayfulthan ever.

“exemplary performances from the Oslo Philharmonic in crystalline recordings that fasten on every sonic detail in the scores...what all these symphonies offer is unlike anything any other composer is writing today.” The Guardian, 15th June 2016 ****

“Cumulatively beautiful, structurally tangible and deliciously pure. The Oslo Philharmonic’s ability to collectively recede as if into a minimalist canvas, parts emerging thereafter with brightness and intent without distorting the contours, makes this performance. In music that’s deceptively tricky to pace, Storgårds delivers – again.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2016

“There’s something almost miraculous about the way Finnish conductor John Storgards has brought this music so finely and compellingly into focus…[in the Second] all is ghostly detached sounds, but then a melodically tight little figure in running notes starts to unfold, somehow transforming yet remaining essentially the same…yet the effect isn’t coldly cerebral: it feels natural, instinctual – as do the exultant brass and bells climaxes that grow out of it” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016 *****

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2016

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Jonathan Harvey: Deo

Jonathan Harvey: Deo


Harvey, J:

I love the Lord

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis

Toccata for Organ and Tape

Come, Holy Ghost

Praise ye the Lord

Missa Brevis

The royal banners forward go

Laus Deo

The Annunciation


Edward Picton-Turbervill (organ)

St John's College Choir Cambridge, Andrew Nethsingha

Read David's exclusive interview with Andrew Nethsingha about the project here.

The Choir of St John's College Cambridge launch their new series of recordings by exploring the close connections between the college and celebrated British composer Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012), in a disc of works for choir and organ. Harvey s music has influenced a generation of composers, described by The Guardian s Tom Service as being 'at once vividly contemporary and timeless'. The Choir's director Andrew Nethsingha reflects on his own experiences and work with the Jonathan Harvey in CD s programme note, in particular as the choir collaborated on what would be Jonathan Harvey s final work for the choir, The Annunciation (2011).

“This album of liturgical choral music pays wonderful tribute to Harvey...Harvey used to describe music coming out of silence and dissolving back into it. It’s a good starting point. The Choir of St John’s tackles all with confidence and clarity.” The Observer, 1st May 2016 *****

“Certainly these are difficult works, including various vocal techniques hardly common in the normal run of church music, but the investment the choir has clearly put into them really gives extraordinary results…this recording is outstanding on every count: remarkable and under-performed repertoire, beautifully performed and recorded” Gramophone Magazine, July 2016

“nuanced and exhilarating performances.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2016

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

Choral Winner

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Thomas Adès, Per Nørgård & Hans Abrahamsen

Thomas Adès, Per Nørgård & Hans Abrahamsen


Abrahamsen:

Preludes (10) (String Quartet No. 1)

Adès:

Arcadiana

Nørgård:

Quartetto Breve (String Quartet No. 1)


The Danish String Quartet, one of the most widely-acclaimed chamber groups of the present moment, makes its ECM debut playing a programme of British and Danish music: Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana (composed 1994), Per Nørgård’s Quartetto Breve (1952), and Hans Abrahamsen’s 10 Preludes (1973).

The pieces were all written when the respective composers were each barely into their 20s, and have a freshness and intensity vividly conveyed in the DSQ’s interpretations. “Arcadia has no national boundaries”, writes Paul Griffiths in the liner notes. “We may feel that the precision of nuance, the warm and intelligent closeness of voices and the command of form these Danish musicians bring to Abrahamsen as to Nørgård comes from some common heritage or sympathy, and yet the same fine qualities shine through their performance of the Adès piece.”

The album was recorded in May 2015 at Reitstadel Neumarkt and produced by Manfred Eicher.

In 2009 the Danish String Quartet won First Prize in the 11th London International String Quartet Competition (now ‘Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition’), and for two years from 2013 were members of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist scheme. In early 2016 they were named winners of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust award.

“It’s an exacting programme requiring grace, grit and clarity and the Danish players sound terrific – lithe and glassy in the Abrahamsen, richer in the Nørgard, able to capture the picturesque watery shimmer of the Adès but also the slime and murk below the surface. It’s a sophisticated performance.” The Guardian, 21st April 2016 *****

“An excellent band here offer three engaging works written at the beginnings of these composers’ illustrious careers.” Sunday Times, 8th May 2016

“The Danish are remarkable, as ever – capable of intense blend, extreme dynamic variation (in which they seem glued together), perfect intonation even on harmonics, and constant vitality and flow” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

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Finalist - Chamber

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - August 2016

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