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The Last Island

The Last Island

Chamber Music by Peter Maxwell-Davies


Davies, Peter Maxwell:

The Last Island for string sextet

A Postcard from Sanday for solo piano

String Trio

Two Nocturnes for piano quartet

Lullaby for violin and cello

Oboe Quartet

A Birthday Card for Jennifer for solo piano

Sonata for Violin and Piano

String Quartet Movement


Hebrides Ensemble

Peter Maxwell Davies’s later music powerfully evokes the isolated majesty of his Orkney island home, yet it also bears witness to his talent for friendship – to his associations, both personal and musical, with friends and supporters in Scotland and further afield. Among the warmest was with William Conway, whom Davies first encountered as principal cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and for whom he wrote the demanding solo part of his second Strathclyde Concerto. And it was for the Hebrides Ensemble, founded by Conway in 1991, that Davies wrote several of the most impressive and personal works to arise from his late engagement with chamber music – a genre in which he had previously worked rarely, here revealed as the 'last island' of this remarkable and prolific composer's output. On its second Delphian album, the Ensemble reciprocates Davies's friendship with definitive performances of works from his last decade, including the single completed movement of a string quartet left unfinished at his death.

“a final, elusive String Quartet Movement that remained unfinished, evaporat[es] into nothing at the close. Prospero-like, Max lays down his manuscripts: the dedicated Hebrides Ensemble, led by cellist William Conway, feel in close and constant touch with the composer.” The Observer, 27th August 2017 ***

“This beguiling — even transfigured —sequence of late works by Davies ends with String Quartet Movement (2016), from a quartet unfinished at his death, and suggests a touching symmetry with the outset of his prolific career and the freestanding Quartet Movement of 1952.” Sunday Times, 27th August 2017

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David Bednall: Sudden Light

David Bednall: Sudden Light

Choral Works


Bednall:

Lux orta est iusto

Rise up, my love

Te lucis ante terminum

Three Songs of Love

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Welcome All Wonders XI: Tribus miraculis ornatum

Welcome All Wonders XIII: But peaceful was the night

Tota pulchra es

Everyone Sang

Sonnet 98

A Wedding Prayer

Sudden Light

The Argument of His Book

Welcome All Wonders II: Allelulia


The Epiphoni Consort, Tim Reader

There is something in the music of David Bednall that speaks of the English genius; it is present in his harmonic language, in its extended diatonic chords and shimmering polytonal beauty, and there too in the folk-like melodies of many of the works on this recording. His art grows from the ground of native tradition, that of the Anglican cathedral and collegiate choir and its revival in the decades since the First World War; it owes a debt to those who ‘collected’ English folksong, while it was still there to collect; and it connects with the richness of English lyrical poetry. A disciple of Vaughan Williams, Finzi or Howells? His music also harbours traces of Messiaen, Duruflé and Vierne. The Epiphoni Consort and their director Tim Reader are passionate advocates of Bednall’s music, and this enterprising debut recording – opening with the ravishing depiction of luminosity that is his 40-part motet Lux orta est iusto – serves to highlight why Bednall is well on his way to becoming one of the UK’s best-loved living choral composers. The Epiphoni Consort was established in 2014 to bring together singers who have advanced vocal and choral training but other primary careers. It has since developed a reputation for creative programming with a commitment to the music of living composers. In 2015, the choir was winner of Tenebrae’s Locus Iste Competition, following which they joined Tenebrae on stage at St James’, Spanish Place. The Consort performed at Sir Terry Pratchett’s memorial at the Barbican and made its first TV appearance in 2016 in a BBC4 documentary, The Joy of Rachmaninov. In 2017 it featured in the BBC2 documentary Terry Pratchett: Back In Black.

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Set upon the Rood

Set upon the Rood

New music for Choir & Ancient Instruments


includes

Bick:

Set upon the Rood

Grier, F:

Cantemus

Kenny, J:

The Deer's Cry

MacMillan:

Noli Pater

MacRae:

Cantata

Taylor, Bill:

Crux Fidelis

Wishart, S:

Iste Confessor


Barnaby Brown (triplepipes, aulos), Biil Taylor (lyre), John & Patrick Kenny (chimes)

Choir Of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Geoffrey Webber

Three years after the runaway success of In Praise of St Columba, its previous collaboration with piper Barnaby Brown, the ever-innovative Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge reunites with Brown – now also joined by lyre player Bill Taylor and ancient brass specialists John and Patrick Kenny. All four are members of the European Music Archaeology Project, whose own ongoing collaboration with Delphian has captivated listeners and reviewers with its glimpses of the sound of Europe’s ancient instruments. Here, those extraordinary sonorities blend with and emerge around the Caius singers’ committed contributions in seven richly conceived new pieces; a world premiere commission by Sir James MacMillan sets up the Celtic theme. Stevie Wishart writes: “Composing new music for ancient instruments is very much part of my work as a composer. I like building on and learning from music traditions of the past, especially as it is these old instruments that can sound new to our ears today, but as forgotten friends rather than strangers from the future.” This recording is dedicated to the memory of John Chumrow OBE, whose financial support made this project possible.

“The performers throw themselves into everything with attention-grabbing fervour. Singing that impresses with great intensity, accuracy and often quite terrific power (theatrical opportunities are gleefully exploited) does full justice to all, including outstanding works by James MacMillan and Stuart MacRae” Choir & Organ, July 2017 ****

“Triplepipe, aulos, carnyx and Loughnashade horn: the odds are firmly against you ever having heard these dinosaurs of musical instrument history in action. This intriguing CD resurrects their sounds, in works by seven contemporary composers…the Gonville and Caius Choir responds with élan and versatility to the constantly shifting demands…their effort is worth it: genuinely new sounds and combinations are created in this shape-shifting project” BBC Music Magazine, October 2017 ****

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Rory Boyle: Music for Clarinet

Rory Boyle: Music for Clarinet


Boyle, R:

Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano

Burble

Bagatelles (4)

Tatty’s Dance

Dramatis Personae

Di Tre Re e io


Fraser Langton (clarinet) & James Willshire (piano)

Trio Dramatis

Building on the legacy of Rory Boyle’s own youthful studies as a clarinettist and pianist, the works on this new portrait disc span a near forty year compositional period, from the Sonatina – written as a gift to Boyle’s teacher Lennox Berkeley – to Dramatis Personae and Burble, written for the present performers. Fraser Langton’s communicative flair in this music – with its striking rhythmic energy and refreshing absence of sentimentality – is infectious, while pianist James Willshire already has an acclaimed solo album of Boyle’s piano music to his credit (released on Delphian in 2011, Boyle’s sixtieth-birthday year). Together, and joined by Rosalind Ventris on viola in the concluding trio, they bring to life the composer’s inventiveness, humour, and unfailing sense of melodic line.

Clarinettist Fraser Langton is active as a soloist and chamber musician, having recently given recitals at London’s St John’s Smith Square and the Wigmore Hall. He performs regularly with the pianist James Willshire, whose performances of contemporary piano repertoire have been lauded for their ‘evangelizing urgency’ (International Record Review) and ‘freshness and lucidity’ (The Herald).

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Drop down, ye heavens: Advent antiphons for choir & saxophone

Drop down, ye heavens: Advent antiphons for choir & saxophone


Allain:

O Day-spring

Allwood:

O Virgin of virgins

Certon:

O Adonai

Despres:

O virgo virginum

Kaner:

O Adonai

Miksch:

There is no rose

Mornable:

O clavis David

Pott:

O Key of David

Praetorius, M:

Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen

Rathbone, S:

O Root of Jesse

Todd:

O Wisdom

Turnbull, S M:

O Emmanuel

Weir:

Drop down, ye heavens, from above

Wilson, G:

O King of the Nations


Sam Corkin (saxophones)

Siglo de Oro, Patrick Allies

Siglo de Oro’s first commercial recording sees the choir and its director Patrick Allies in collaboration with saxophonist Sam Corkin. Their intriguing programme highlights the saxophone's natural kinship with the human voice, as well as the endless expressive possibilities which this versatile instrument stimulates in the imaginations of modern composers. Its athletic vigour launches Will Todd’s O Wisdom, the first of eight settings of the Advent antiphons in English which, having been commissioned by the present artists, now form the backbone of this recording. Elsewhere the instrument soars above the voices’ urgent prophecy and imploration, while the choir is heard unaccompanied in glowing renditions of sixteenth-century polyphony – works by Pierre Certon, Antoine de Mornable, Michael Praetorius and Josquin des Prez, whose music complements the atmosphere of quiet expectancy proper to Advent. -

“Invigorating… Professional London startups can sound frustratingly generic but this one hits you with its character and depth” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“This marvellous disc offers a stimulating new slant on the music of Advent. Don’t pass it by as “just another Christmas disc”. This is highly original and superbly performed. Siglo de Oro have made a most auspicious debut on disc” MusicWeb International, December 2016

“a debut with a difference... A novel, ungimmicky project, vividly executed” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016

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Delphian - DCD34184

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Songs and Lullabies

Songs and Lullabies

New Works For Solo Cello


Alberga:

Ride Through

Beamish:

Miranda Dreaming

Boyle, R:

Baloue

Butler, T:

Lament

Hellawell:

A Frieze and a Litany

Irvine, B:

Elegy (for Peter)

Irvine, R:

Imagined Child

Irvine, T:

Safety

Jackson, Gabriel:

Untitled (for Robert Irvine)

MacMillan:

Knock Knock

McGuire, E:

Elegiac Lullaby

Roberts, R:

Elegy for the Children of War

Shave:

Tili tili Bom

Simone, J:

Misremembrance

Stanley, Jane:

Winter Song

Strachan:

Zarabanda

Sweeney, W:

Caolas

Turnage:

Amelie’s Tango

Wilde, D:

Invocation and Waltz


Robert Irvine (cello)

Inspired by the plight of disadvantaged and mistreated children around the world, Delphian artist Robert Irvine has commissioned 18 new pieces for solo cello. As a musician who works at the heart of the English and Scottish scenes, he is able to draw on an impressive roster of friends and colleagues that includes some of the UK’s leading composers. Each of them has contributed a short solo piece, drawing out the cello’s most lyrical aspects, while Irvine’s own startling alertness to the finest expressive nuance further enhances this unique recording project.

Over the course of his rich and varied career, Irvine has held principal positions with the Scottish Opera Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Britten Pears Orchestra, and was a founding member of the Brindisi String Quartet and Da Vinci Piano Trio. A regular Delphian artist, he has appeared on a disc of Dallapiccola’s chamber music (DCD34020); with Graeme McNaught on a much-lauded recording of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich cello sonatas (DCD34034); and – with Fali Pavri – a recording of Giles Swayne’s music for cello and piano (DCD34073). He is artistic director of Delphian’s contemporary music group Red Note Ensemble, which has a busy schedule of projects

throughout the UK and Europe. Irvine has broadcast frequently as soloist and chamber musician on BBC television and BBC Radio 3, and is a senior professor of cello and chamber music and Head of Cello Studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“Irvine responds to each piece with the same sincerity, imagination and technical assurance; lovely playing, captured in warm, natural sound. A well-produced document of a very worthwhile project.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

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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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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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Delphian - DCD34168

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In Memoriam

In Memoriam

A tribute to David Trendell


Busiakiewicz:

Ego sum resurrectio et vita

Byrd:

Laudibus in sanctis

Clemens:

Ego flos campi

Grier, F:

Panis angelicus

Kaner:

Duo seraphim

Keeley:

Magnificat & Nunc dimittis

Lhéritier:

Nigra sum (5vv)

Martin, M:

An Invocation to the Holy Spirit

Milstein, S:

ushnarasmou – untimely spring

Palestrina:

Quam pulchri sunt gressus tui

Pitts, A:

Pie Jesu (Prayer of the Heart)

Pott:

Nigra sum sed formosa

Wilson, G:

Magnificat & Nunc dimittis (Collegium Regale)


Choir of King’s College London, Gareth Wilson

Read David's exclusive interview with Gareth Wilson about the project here.

The choir which David Trendell directed for twenty-two years pays tribute in a collection of specially chosen pieces by David’s colleagues, friends and former students, interspersed with the Renaissance polyphony which was Trendell’s area of scholarly expertise. His deep love for the Song of Songs has inspired many of the inclusions, and its nature imagery threads through the disc, adding a suggestion of renewal and rebirth to the memorial tone of works written in the difficult months after his untimely death. The composers’ affection for David and gratitude for his life and musical achievements is matched by the intelligence and deep musicality of the choir he raised to an international reputation, and which here takes on a sophisticated and challenging programme in his memory.

“This disc is the result of an outpouring of love and, naturally, of grief, brought together in a splendid collection that stands as a celebration of David [Trendell’s] life as much as a memorial…[the choir produces] renditions of transparent beauty and exemplary balance. A radiant tribute to a radiant musician” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2016

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Delphian - DCD34146

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Valentin Silvestrov: Piano Sonatas

Valentin Silvestrov: Piano Sonatas


Silvestrov:

Piano Sonata No. 1

Classical Sonata

Piano Sonata No. 2

Children's Music I

Piano Sonata No. 3

Nostalghia


Simon Smith (piano)

Following his acclaimed recording of Alfred Schnittke’s complete piano music, Simon Smith urns his attention to Schnittke’s near-contemporary, the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. Smith’s precision and technical agility make him the ideal choice for this first survey to focus on the 1970s – an important period in the formation of Silvestrov’s later style. The Classical Sonata is an ostensibly Mozartian work in which nothing is quite as it seems, while its three numbered successors provide further glimpses into Silvestrov’s unique relationship with memory and the past – this is deliberately hazy music, whose precisely notated pedal effects and nuanced half-lights leave the listener suspended, as Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s poetic and informative booklet essay puts it, ‘among glitter and the clouds’. Concluding the disc, the short Nostalghia represents the mature Silvestrov, with its yearning melodic fragments and complex emotional undertow.

Smith has performed many of the landmarks of the twentieth-century piano repertoire, most notably many of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke and the Piano Concerto and complete Etudes of György Ligeti. Following a performance of the latter he was acclaimed as ‘a phenomenon – nothing daunts him, technically or musically’ (The Scotsman). For Delphian Records he has recorded solo music by James MacMillan and Stuart MacRae (twinned on Delphian DCD34009), Hafliði Hallgrímsson (DCD34051), Alfred Schnittke (DCD34131, 2 discs) and Thomas Wilson (DCD34079, in which he also joins members of the Edinburgh Quartet for Wilson's Piano Trio). More recently, with Red Note Ensemble, he has recorded chamber music by John McLeod (DCD34155) and Eddie McGuire (DCD34157).

“Simon Smith's engagingly performed and atmospherically recorded recital offers a fascinating insight into the composer's development from the 1960s through to the 1980s.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

“In Smith’s hands, this work captivates in both moment and span” Sunday Times, 22nd November 2015

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