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The Art of Dancing

The Art of Dancing

21st-Century Concertos for Trumpet, Piano and Strings


Borenstein:

Concerto for piano, trumpet and string orchestra, Op. 74

Gordon, G:

Saint Blue

Pritchard, Deborah:

Seven Halts on the Somme

Young, Toby:

The Art of Dancing


Simon Desbruslais (trumpet), Clare Hammond (piano)

English String Orchestra, Kenneth Woods

Simon Desbruslais returns to disc on Signum with an album that continues to expand the repertoire of the trumpet even further, with four new commissions for trumpet, piano and string Orchestra.

Toby Young’s 'The Art of Dancing' is described by the composer as being "a modern homage to the baroque dance suite", drawing inspiration from modern dance music styles including Acid House, Garage and Drum & Bass. Geoffrey

Gordon’s 'Saint Blue' is inspired by the visionary artist Wassily Kandinsky, creating a double concerto with a remarkable jazz-inspired cadenza featuring trumpet, piano and double bass. Deborah Pritchard’s 'Seven Halts on the Somme' responds to the series of oil paintings by artist Hughie O’Donoghue that depicting seven stopping points for British troops during the Battle of the Somme, one of the most bloody conflicts of the First World War. Finally, Nimrod Borenstein's’ 'Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra' juxtaposes rhythms to create a multiplicity of different atmospheres in this highly effective and powerful work.

For these première recordings Simon Desbruslais performs with pianist Clare Hammond, accompanied by the English String Orchestra under Kenneth Woods.

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Naji Hakim: Phèdre, Caprice, Diptyque & Piano Concerto

Naji Hakim: Phèdre, Caprice, Diptyque & Piano Concerto


Hakim:

Phèdre

Rima Tawil (soprano), Naji Hakim (piano)

Caprice en rondeau

Magali Mosnier (flute), Naji Hakim (piano)

Diptyque

Magali Mosnier (flute), Naji Hakim (piano)

Piano Concerto

Claire Foison (piano), Renaud Bary (double bass)

Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale


A prolific composer and organist, Naji Hakim is truly one of the most versatile performer-composers working today, garnering praise from his numerous organ and composition competition prizes as well as an award from Pope Benedict XVI for his musical work in benefit of the church.This new recording continues Signum’s series of discs with Naji Hakim with a new selection of his chamber works, featuring performances by Rima Tawil, Magali Mosnier, Claire Foise, Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale (with Renaud Bary) as well as by the composer. These works draw on a wide range of influences: Phèdresets the words of Jean Racine’s tragic work of the same name to music; Caprice en Rondeau is a sprightly piece featuring themes by Rameau; and the Diptyque combines folk tunes through the tonal pallate of the basque flute the txistu. The premiere recording of the Concerto for Piano is a tour-de-force for soloist Claire Foise, accompanied in this version for String Quintet by the Quatuor de la Chapelle Royale and Renaud Bary.

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The Sunlight on the Garden: The Songs of Stephen Wilkinson

The Sunlight on the Garden: The Songs of Stephen Wilkinson


Wilkinson, S:

Grantchester

Proud Songsters

At the manger

Joly Jankyn

Eternal summer

Winter snow

Chapels

Heaven

The hour-glass

Come away, death

Crabbed age and youth

To a young girl

O do not love too long

Maude Gonne takes down a book

Politics

Spring and fall

The garden

The sunlight on the garden

The gate in the wall

Running to paradise

Birdspeak

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Wind and the Moon

Kiss


Mhairi Lawson (soprano), Clare Wilkinson (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Brook (bass), Anna Markland (piano), Ian Buckle (piano)

One of the UK’s leading choral directors for over 50 years, Stephen Wilkinson MBE has led both professional and amateur choirs across Europe, and is particularly renowned for his work with the BBC Northern Singers and the William Byrd Singers of Manchester.

Only retiring from conducting in 2009 at the age of 90, Stephen Wilkinson’s songs span the breadth of his long career as a conductor and musician, and are best described by his daughter Clare – an acclaimed mezzo-soprano herself who also performs on this recording – as being “a unique voice, yet deeply rooted in the English song tradition of Finzi, Gurney and Quilter.”

Performed by British singers Mhairi Lawson, Clare Wilkinson, James Gilchrist and Matthew Brook, they draw on texts by a wealth of sources including Auden, Yates, Coleridge, Shakespeare and many more.

“As can be heard on this disc, the English song tradition continues to bear fruit; singing, pianism and recording sound are here productively allied” MusicWeb International, August 2017

“You could certainly call it old fashioned, but that would be to miss the point: Wilkinson sets poetry to music lucidly and succinctly, and he is never sentimental. His daughter’s mellow, direct voice is the ideal vehicle for his expressive, confiding vocal lines, as is James Gilchrist’s clear, airy tenor.” The Guardian

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Jonathan Dove: In Damascus

Jonathan Dove: In Damascus


Dove:

In Damascus

Mark Padmore (tenor)

Out of Time

Piano Quintet

Charles Owen (piano)


Even though Jonathan Dove is best known as a vocal or choral composer, with operas and works for children forming the backbone of his output, his chamber music reveals similar predilections for narrative, drama, atmosphere and a sense of the personal. His new commission from the Sacconi Quartet, In Damascus, was inspired by the violinist Hannah Dawson s suggestion for a work that should reflect aspects of the conflict in Syria; not because music can offer any political solution, but simply as an expression of empathy, sorrow, even outrage at those terrible events. Featuring a performance by tenor Mark Padmore, the text is taken from prose-poems by Ali Safar that draw on his first- hand experiences in Syria, eloquently translated by Anne-Marie McManus. The Sacconi s present this new work alongside his string quartet work, Out of Time, and his Piano Quintet, performed with pianist Charles Owen.

“The beauty of the piece, for tenor and string quartet, is its restraint. It doesn’t sensationalise, get maudlin, moralise or politicise. The words are direct and the music respects that. The performance does, too: clear, focused playing from the Sacconi Quartet and lucid, unswerving narrative from tenor Mark Padmore.” The Guardian, 8th June 2017 ****

“Given the subject-matter, Dove’s new song-cycle In Damascus was never going to be an easy listen as such - but Dove’s writing is so accessible and lucid (aided by Mark Padmore’s eloquent, unhistrionic delivery) that its appeal is immediate and its impact impossible to forget.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, June 2017

“Mark Padmore uses his voice with such emotional intelligence… the string playing is by turn both dark and passionate” Record Review, 11th June 2017

“Dove’s In Damascus proves a powerful, passionate and above all humane commentary on that country’s current plight… impeccable playing from the Sacconi Quartet.” Classical Ear, August 2017 ****

“Seldom does a mixed vocal and chamber programme such as this hang together so perfectly...[In Damascus] was tailor-made for Mark Padmore, who summons up every iota of his immense interpretative powers to steer us through this reflective testament. This important release cannot be recommended too highly.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

“Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of [In Damascus]…pianist Charles Owen joins the Sacconis for the Piano Quintet, his crisp, incisive playing making a particular impression in the rhythmically buoyant outer movements” BBC Music Magazine, October 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Recording of the Month - August 2017

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Gough, O: The World Encompassed

Gough, O: The World Encompassed

Sir Francis Drake’s Circumnavigation of the Globe 1577-80


During his journey to circumnavigate the globe Sir Francis Drake took four viol players with him, who played both for his devotions and to the native peoples around the world that they encountered.

Fretwork have commissioned British composer Orlando Gough to recreate this remarkable journey in sound, in a work for viol consort that combines music from 16th century England with the ‘sounds’ that these musicians would have heard and perhaps tried to recreate on their journey – from the rebab and the gamelan to the mesmerising chanting of the Native Americans. The result is a musical narrative of one of the most significant achievements of the English golden age and an evocation of the earliest musical encounters between east and west.

This premiere recording is interspersed with narration from The World Encompassed, one of the first literary accounts of the journey, read by Simon Callow.

“Ancient meets modern and east meets west in this weird but wonderful project...it comes out polished and provocative on this double album...Gough imaginatively and freely evokes the sort of local music that Drake’s sailors might have heard in South America and Asia.” The Times, 26th May 2017

“Gough’s music is extraordinarily imaginative and evocative as he imagines the memories of local music from around the world” Early Music Review, May 2017

“It all adds up to an inventive musical travelogue” Financial Times, 16th June 2017 ***

“It’s a fascinating idea… Gough has met his brief handsomely and full marks go to Fretwork for seeing the initial inspiration and following it through to realisation” MusicWeb International, June 2017

“Narrator Simon Callow is terrific, Fretwork mesmerising” BBC Music Magazine, September 2017 ****

“It’s the musical equivalent of being asked to make a raft out of plastic bottles and paperclips, a challenge Gough meets with all his customary wit and invention. It’s also tremendous fun. This mixture of old and new, familiar and alien, really shouldn’t work; but, stitched together by Simon Callow’s characterful narration, it forms an exotic tapestry – a vivid portrait of the age of exploration” Gramophone Magazine, September 2017

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Talbot: The Path of Miracles & Park: Footsteps

Talbot: The Path of Miracles & Park: Footsteps


Park:

Footsteps

Fellows of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain

Talbot, J:

The Path of Miracles


Award-winning professional vocal ensemble, Tenebrae mark their 15th anniversary season with a celebratory re-release of Joby Talbot’s 'Path of Miracles', as well as the premiere recording of a new work by Owain Park. Inspired by the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, 'Path of Miracles' has quickly become a contemporary classic among choral music fans. Tenebrae commissioned British composer Owain Park to compose his new work 'Footsteps' as a companion piece to 'Path of Miracles', and one which allows Tenebrae to perform alongside choirs near its touring locations.

A note from Owain: “I was delighted to be asked by Nigel to write a piece for Tenebrae to be performed alongside Path of Miracles. Tenebrae’s recording of Joby’s piece is one of my absolute favourites; I remember being bowled over by the instrumental quality of the opening and the combination of ancient chant with the composer’s own modern voice. When I met with Nigel we spoke about the possibilities for this new work; it would need to be much shorter than Path of Miracles, but hopefully contain many complimentary themes, namely travel, solitude and journeying. Footsteps is the result of many months of researching texts to structure a narrative that cycles the seasons through the view of a lonely traveller who is constantly being moved on before being allowed to settle, finding comfort in the sky and stars above.”

“Two original commissions… showcase Tenebrae’s past and present” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

“Exceptionally beautiful… a tour-de-force of composition and execution, with Tenebrae giving of their very best.” Choir & Organ, July 2017 *****

“Full of imaginative compositional ideas… there are excellent solos from Emilia Morton, Nancy Cole, Daniel Collins and Stephen Kennedy” Early Music Review, August 2017

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Dove: For An Unknown Soldier

Dove: For An Unknown Soldier

An Airmail Letter from Mozart


Dove:

For An Unknown Soldier

An Airmail Letter from Mozart


Nicky Spence (tenor), Melvyn Tan (piano)

Oxford Bach Choir, Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir, Children’s Choir: The Minster Junior School Monks Orchard Primary School, Ecclesbourne Primary School, London Mozart Players, Nicholas Cleobury

'For An Unknown Soldier' is a cantata of remembrance to mark the centenary of the First World War. Commissioned by the London Mozart Players and Portsmouth Grammar School, Jonathan Dove’s poignant work combines the words of war poets such as Wilfred Owen, William Noel Hodgson & Isaac Rosenberg. It lay at the centre of a multi-faceted project that encompassed primary and secondary schools, nursing homes and the local communities of Portsmouth and Croydon. The world premiere of the work took place in November 2014 and there are plans to tour the project in 2018.

It is paired with the ensemble’s performance of Dove’s 'An Airmail Letter from Mozart', for 2 horns, string quartet and piano, directed by Melvyn Tan. Dove uses the 'Theme and Variations', and one or two other ideas, from Mozart’s Divertimento K287 to write an imaginary letter to his wife Constanze.

“Dove has a profound feel for literature as well as a protean compositional talent...And Dove’s matchless experience of writing community operas is evident in the way that choirs of young children, older children (Portsmouth Grammar School) and adults (Oxford Bach Choir) are each given a distinct strand of the narrative … Nicky Spence is wonderfully tender in the tenor solos … it’s a marvellously atmospheric work and should be heard.” The Times, 11th November 2016

“As always with Dove, the vocal writing is finely gauged. Children’s choirs merge seamlessly into and out of the Oxford Bach Choir, with Nicky Spence a highly eloquent focal-point and Nicholas Cleobury securing an animated response from the London Mozart Players. Anyone coming to these poems for the first time will be left in little doubt as to their emotional acuity…this disc [is] more than just a memento of a major occasion” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“By turns scamperingly hyperactive, tender and skittish, [An airmail letter from Mozart is] a delightfully endearing portrait of Mozart sketched in a modern accent, and a blast to listen to…Nocholas Cleobury does a sterling job of marshalling the forces [in For an unknown soldier], which include a combined children's choir, and tenor Nicky Spence, whose contributions are memorably plangent” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

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Steve Reich & Marc Mellits

Steve Reich & Marc Mellits


Mellits:

Black

Reich:

New York Counterpoint


Julian Bliss (clarinet)

Julian Bliss joins in this year’s 80th birthday celebrations of the iconic American composer Steve Reich with a digital release of his minimalist masterpiece New York Counterpoint. Bliss performs all 12 parts on this new multitrack recording.

The work is paired with a composition by fellow American composer Marc Mellits - a new arrangement of his piece 'Black' for two clarinets and bass clarinets, also performed entirely by Julian Bliss. Considered a protégé of Reich, Marc Mellits’s unique musical style has been described as an eclectic combination of driving rhythms, soaring lyricism, and colorful orchestrations that all combine to communicate directly with the listener.

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Dance: Kerenza Peacock

Dance: Kerenza Peacock


Davis, O:

Dance

Frontiers

Dance Odyssey

Musical Box

Arco

Dancing Folk

Fiddlelicks

Dance Epilogue


Kerenza Peacock (violin) & Huw Watkins (piano)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Bateman

Oliver Davis writes: "Dance is the third in a series of albums, Flight and Seasons having been released in 2015. My musical association with dance began when Erico Montes (First Artist with the Royal Ballet) choreographed the ballet Within the Hours to a three movement cello suite I had written. This was performed by members of the Royal Ballet as part of Draft Works. Montes followed this by choreographing a solo piece, Prometheus, to the slow movement of Flight, also performed at Draft Works and it was during its subsequent performances at the St James Theatre that I decided to create an album based around the concept of dance.

The first movement of the concerto Dance began as a simple set of sequences for solo violin which Kerenza initially recorded as separate ‘modules’. I then developed the idea and subsequently added a piano. Performed here by Huw Watkins the piano plays a pivotal role in the second movement and then an equal role with the solo violin in the final movement.

The opening movement of American influenced Frontiers is scored for violins only. It is followed by a reflective slow movement and concludes with a minimalist final movement. This piece was an opportunity to make use of Kerenza’s ability and enthusiasm to play both classical and folk music.

With Dance Odyssey I wanted to create the feeling of ‘another world’, so scored an atmospheric ‘overture’ for the opening of this single movement work. The desire was to take the listener on a journey.

Musical Box conjures up the rotating ballerina found in a jewellery box, and, as is often experienced with wind up mechanical toys, the music rarely ends where you would expect.

The opening and closing movements of Arco hint at the tradition of Russian ballet music both rhythmically and melodically, the solo violin dancing ‘butterfly like’ above the orchestra. In contrast, the slow movement has a pensive intensity.

With this album I was keen to explore the various traditional forms of dance, including its role in folk music. In the opening movement of Dancing Folk I used the Bavarian dance form Zwiefacher, the rhythmic complexity of which appealed to me. I then searched for other contrasting dance styles, which resulted in the hoe-down style of the middle movement and a calypso feel to the last.

Fiddlelicks contrasts with the rest of the album in that it was written for Kerenza alone. I recorded her on seven different tracks and then combined these, creating an illusion of several violinists playing together. The first movement is in an Eastern European folk style, with a nod to Gershwin, while the second movement takes the form of a Fandango.

Kerenza added two solo violin lines and her voice, again multi-tracked, to the closing piece Dance Epilogue.

For all the recordings Ingles and Hayday kindly loaned to Kerenza a violin by Antonio Stradivari."

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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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