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Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016)

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Davies, Peter Maxwell: Naxos Quartets Nos. 1-10 (complete)

Davies, Peter Maxwell: Naxos Quartets Nos. 1-10 (complete)

“This is quite simply the greatest and most generously rewarding quartet cycle since that of Elliott Carter…and, unlike Carter’s and the output of most other composers of quartets, the Naxos Quartets are absolutely a cycle, conceived from the outset as a single journey, albeit one with many localised diversions.” Classical Source

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Naxos - 8505225

(CD - 5 discs)

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Davies, Peter Maxwell: Resurrection

Davies, Peter Maxwell: Resurrection

Opera in one act with prologue. Music and Libretto by the composer

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies began work on his parodic opera Resurrection whilst studying at Princeton in the early 1960s but it wasn’t until the 1980s that he resumed composition. Its violent diversity is aimed at several different targets – the state, Church, and media – and is often delivered through deliberate juxtapositions of opposing material. The opera is expressed through a dazzling masque-like succession of scenes, and the blackly comic pastiche of hymn tunes, marching band music, saccharine waltzes and banal TV advertisements.

Resurrection is about the conformity of an individual when brow beaten by the social and political forces that rage against him. The music helps anchor the plot to recognisable themes and uses many different styles and genres. This is the only recording that is currently available.

“Maxwell Davies's matching panoply of stylistic musical masks is magpie-like even by his standards...there's no doubting the astonishing technical apparatus that makes it all happen. Davies's conducting secures a performance of ceaseless brilliance to match.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

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Naxos - 8660359-60

(CD - 2 discs)

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Davies, Peter Maxwell: Taverner

Davies, Peter Maxwell: Taverner

Martyn Hill (Taverner), David Wilson-Johnson (Jester), Stephen Richardson (Henry VIII), Fiona Kimm (Virgin Mary), Michael Chance (Priest/God), Quentin Hayes (White Abbot) & Peter Sidhom (Richard Taverner)

Fretwork, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta Voices, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts & New London Children’s Choir, Oliver Knussen

Significant concert activity planned to mark Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 75th birthday in 2009, including concert performances of Taverner in November by BBC SSO (UK).

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 2004.

Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle studied together at the Royal Northern College of Music where they founded the contemporary music touring ensemble the Pierrot Players (later renamed The Fires of London).

Maxwell Davies Lives in Sanday in the Orkney Islands which are located off the northern tip of Scotland where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Orkney is an archipelago of 70 or so islands; just 21 of them are inhabited.

This is Peter Maxwell Davies’ first release on the NMC label. To mark Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s 75th birthday NMC issue the long-awaited release of his seminal opera, Taverner.

This release is of the landmark 1997 BBC recording featuring an astonishing line up of the cream of British contemporary music interpreters, alongside specialist period instrument ensembles Fretwork and His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, conducted by Oliver Knussen. Although what is now known about the 16th-century English composer John Taverner differs considerably from the plot of this opera, the piece is both a fascinating study of an artist as a man for all seasons and an extraordinary indictment of the horrors inflicted on humanity by religion, or religious zealotry.

The Taverner of the opera abandons music to become a persecutor of the Catholic faith and thus betrays all that is good in himself. In Act 1 we see him being tried for heresy by the White Abbot and pardoned by the Cardinal (Wolsey) because of his music. In Act 2, which is a parody of the first, Taverner is trying the White Abbot, who is burned at the stake. That is the bare outline. A sub-plot is Henry VIII’s wish for a break with Rome in order to divorce Catherine of Aragon and the machinations of a Jester, otherwise Death, who controls Taverner’s fate.

“The opera is full… bitterly ironic juxtapositions, such as the 'holy' chanting from monks heard against the cynical Realpolitik of the negotiations between King and the Cardinal. Making the dramatically effective needs a careful balancing of the textures, and here conductor Oliver Knussen proves just as masterly as one would expect. But he's equally good at bringing out the astringent and anguished lyricism of the music, particularly the orchestral interludes in the last Act. ...Stuart Cale as the Cardinal (later the Anglican Archbishop) stands out as particularly fine, relishing the unctuous cynicism of both of these fine prelates. In all, this recording is a wonderful achievement which does justice to a powerful, timely and humane work.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2010 ****

“Of the stalwart team of solo singers, Martyn Hill, Quentin Hayes and Stuart Kale are particularly successful in their lyrical shaping of lines which can so easily become tortuously shapeless. …conductor Oliver Knussen keeps the goals in view and the climaxes in proportion, with the strings of the BBC SO tirelessly eloquent in the searing final stages.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

GGramophone Awards 2010

Finalist - Opera

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(CD - 2 discs)

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Davies, Peter Maxwell: The Lighthouse

Davies, Peter Maxwell: The Lighthouse

A chamber opera in a prologue and one act. Music and Libretto by the composer

Neil Mackie (tenor), Christopher Keyte (baritone) & Ian Comboy (bass)

Members of the BBC Philharmonic, Peter Maxwell Davies

On a routine tour of duty in December 1900 the supply ship Hesperus discovered the Flannan Isles lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides to be empty, the three keepers apparently having disappeared into thin air. Peter Maxwell Davies’ haunting and thrilling chamber opera The Lighthouse is heard here in its classic première recording. It shows what might have become of the three men, marooned in their storm-bound tower and overwhelmed by ghostly visions and crazed desperation, creating a dramatic imagining of a story which remains a mystery to this day.

“Even without the visuals, the work's taut pacing and sharp-focus invention grip the imagination from start to finish. All three cast members excel, taking Maxwell Davies's liking for apssages of falsetto yowling in their stride; and the instrumental playing is incisively superb.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 *****

“The diction of all the singers is highly commendable and most of the words are clearly delivered even when Maxwell Davies' chamber orchestra is at its most strident. Neil Mackie was at the time something of a specialist in the composer's works, and throws himself into his role with the utmost conviction. Christopher Keyte made his career in more conventional repertoire, but sounds thoroughly at home. Ian Comboy mouths his religious platitudes with relish.” MusicWeb International, 13th June 2014

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Naxos - 8660354


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Beethoven, Maxwell Davies: Piano Trios

Beethoven, Maxwell Davies: Piano Trios


Piano Trio No. 2 in G major, Op. 1 No. 2

Piano Trio No. 5 in D major, Op. 70 No. 1 'The Ghost'

Davies, Peter Maxwell:

A Voyage to Fair Isle

Grieg Trio

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Simax - PSC1166


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Earle Brown - A Life In Music Volume 2

Earle Brown - A Life In Music Volume 2

Bedford, D:

Come In Here Child




Ring a Dumb Carillon

Brown, Earle:

Music for Violin, Cello and Piano (1952)

Music for Cello and Piano (1955)


Davies, Peter Maxwell:


Feldman, M:

Durations I-IV

Maderna, B:

Serenata No. 2




Ritmica für sechs Instrumente und Schlagzeug


Cycle for 2 or 4 Players

Interpreters: English Chamber Orchestra; Bruno Maderna; Jacques Castagner;Walter Lewis; Francis Pierre; Walter Trampler; Seymour Barab; Luciano Berio;The Pierrot Players; Peter Maxwell Davies; Mary Thomas; Jane Manning; John Tilbury; Moray Welsh; Richard Orton; Don Hammond; Don Butterfield; David Tudor; Matthew Raimondi & David Soyer

Earle Brown's legendary Contemporary Sound Series is gradually being released on the WERGO label. Recorded between 1960 and 1973, the original 18 LPs have been highly sought after since 1978 when they were discontinued.These rare and historically important recordings of international avant-garde music have been carefully digitised and remastered by the Earle Brown Music Foundation.This is the second volume in the series which presents the extraordinary world of contemporary and avant-garde music that flourished in Europe, the United States, Latin America and Japan in the 1960s and early 1970s. Each set contains three CDs in jewel boxes including the original liner notes and cover. In addition there is small catalogue/booklet with an essay "Earle Brown's Contemporary Sound Series" in English, German and French, as well as an information about the complete Contemporary Sound Series to be released.

“First issued in 1970, it delivers a fascinating snapshot of British new music... All have considerable documentary as well as musical value.” The Guardian, 31st December 2009 ***

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Wergo Earle Brown's Contemporary Sound Series - WER69312

(CD - 3 discs)

Normally: $26.75

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This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched.

Endymion - Sound Census

Endymion - Sound Census




Two Trios

Butler, M:




Cowie, E:

Magma Psalm

Davies, Peter Maxwell:

Judas Mercator


Tree Carving

Elias, B:


Fox, Christopher:

A Study in Daylight



Gilbert, A:


Hayes, M:

Shatner’s Bassoon

Holt, Simon:


disparate dos



Matthews, C:


Maxwell, M:

Singla Rock


Doubles All Round


From a Mouthful of Air



Venables, P:

Fight Music


The Peckham Harmony

Wills, S:

...without words


Endymion celebrates its 30th anniversary with a survey of new commissions from composers who have worked with the ensemble, from senior figures in British music – such as Anthony Payne, Simon Bainbridge and Simon Holt, and younger but established talents like Morgan Hayes and Dai Fujikura – to those at an early stage of their career, such as Joanna Bailie, James Weeks and Naomi Pinnock.

Endymion was formed in 1979 from a group of outstanding National Youth Orchestra students and retains most of its original players.

Endymion has been described as one of the few chamber groups as at home with Mozart as with Birtwistle.

Endymion’s Sound Census project has reached beyond the new pieces on this disc, to include primary and secondary school students in the London Boroughs of Westminster, Camden and Tower Hamlets. Seven Alevel and GCSE students created new pieces in close collaboration with Endymion players.

“It almost goes without saying that the Endymion players are first-rate advocates for these works...there is a diversity of approach from composers young and not so young here, suggesting British music is in a state of vibrant health.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2010 *****

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(CD - 2 discs)

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Works for bassoon quartet, voice, percussion and piano

Berlin, I:

Steppin' Out with My Baby

Davies, Peter Maxwell:

Farewell to Stromness

Yesnaby Ground

Douglas, Bill:




Funk for Spain






Odes to the Americas


Tango melancolico

Scott, R:


Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals

Kate Crossan (celtic singer), Mark Duggan (percussion), Bill Douglas (piano)

Caliban Quartet

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Gemini - Ave Maris Stella

Gemini - Ave Maris Stella

Chamber Music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Davies, Peter Maxwell:

Psalm 124

Dove, Star-folded

World Premiere

Economies of Scale

World Premiere

Ave Maris Stella


“Ave Maris Stella (1975) reaffirms itself as a tour de force of ear-gripping virtuosity. Pick of the smaller works is Davies's reworking of an old Scottish tune for Psalm 124. Absolutely superb.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2008 ****

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Metier - MSV28503


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Knight Errant

Knight Errant

Solo Music for Trumpet

Boyle, R:

Ceremony After a Fire Raid

Davies, Peter Maxwell:

Litany for a ruined chapel between sheep and shore


Knight Errant

The Trouble with Tritons

Velvet Rooms

Resident Villain or The Reform of Rank Bajin

Etude d’execution transcendante

Muse Lane

McGuire, E:

Prelude 22 (The big bang)

Sweeney, W:

Paraphrase on “Pro Patria”


An Aria

Mark O’Keeffe (trumpet)

Includes world premiere recordings

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Delphian - DCD34049


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