• Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Huw Watkins return with the start of a Beethoven Violin Sonata Cycle - here recording the 1st, 5th and 8th sonatas. Gramophone Magazine said “The heart gives a little leap at the prospect of...a duo as engaging and intelligent as Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Huw Watkins.” This cycle is sure to be one of the highlights of Signum’s year, as well as of Beethoven 250. Beethoven’s twelve violin sonatas add up to a comprehensive exploration of the possibilities and potential of writing for the two instruments on equal terms – possibilities that he was ideally placed to understand. The three sonatas on this recording are waypoints on a journey, crafted by a composer who was both violinist and pianist, and who never ceased exploring the practical possibilities of the instruments for which he wrote.
  • Eric Whitacre, normally known for his choral compositions and arrangements, personally requested Joby Burgess arrange some of his well-known works for Marimba quartet. This unique recording shows the warm, earthly tones of the marimba, beautifully playing the lush harmonies of Whitacre's choral works.
  • The Albion Quartet continue their Dvořák series with Signum. This is their second release on the label, featuring Dvořák's 8th & 10th string quartets.
  • Alessio Bax plays an Italian inspired programme, picking his favourite pieces taken from a rich history of music from one of the most romantic countries in the world. He opens the programme with a J.S. Bach transcription of a oboe concerto by Venetian composer Alessandro Marcello, which reveals a deep insight into Bach’s mind. This is followed by Rachmaninov’s last ever work for solo piano, which is incredibly eloquent, introspective and personal. The Dallapiccola continues this eloquent theme, showing some beautifully crafted dodecaphonism. The recording is rounded off with two pieces of Liszt, which take the listener on a multi-legged journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, with beauty and drama along the way.
  • Ian Venables studied composition with Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with John Joubert, Andrew Downes and John Mayer at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. His works encompass many genres and he has added significantly to the canon of English art song. Described as ‘Britain’s greatest living composer of art song’ (Musical Opinion) and ‘a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney’ (BBC Music Magazine), Ian Venables has written over 80 works in this genre, including nine song-cycles. As the title suggests, the works on this disc are predominantly reflective in mood although this does not preclude the use of faster-moving music whenever the poetry requires it. Its subject matter celebrates the timelessness of love through the poetry of James Joyce, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas, John Clare, Robert Nichols and the modern poet Jennifer Andrews; the celebration and commemoration of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, in Sir Andrew Motion’s remarkable narrative poem Remember This and the collective remembrance of those who died in the First World War: the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy and the less well-known Francis St. Vincent Morris providing the impetus for one of Ian Venables’ most dramatic and profoundly moving cycles.
  • After the success of their debut disc, ‘Voyages’, Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton present their second recital disc exploring Lieder in German and Italian by Schubert, Haydn and Wolf. The programme is woven around songs inspired by the ‘muses’ of the day, both mythological and divine. It begins with Schubert’s dramatic and reverential settings of sacred German poetry, set alongside his lush emotional portrayals of female characters in the Italian settings. The central section of the disc is then devoted to Haydn’s epic ‘scena’ depicting the famously cruel abandonment of Arianna by her lover Teseo, ‘Arianna a Naxos’. Haydn’s beautiful prayer ‘Geistliches Lied’ takes us back into the world of German poetry and the religious fervour that arose from the collective belief in Christianity which pervaded most art forms of the age. The disc then moves into works by Hugo Wolf, whose stunning settings of devotional texts take the listener right to the heart of the characters; a few of these songs were in fact inspired by paintings. The early moments of Jesus Christ’s life are vividly portrayed here, particularly in songs such as ‘Die ihr Schwebet’, ‘Auf ein Altes Bild’ and ‘Schlafendes Jesuskind’, while the haunting ‘Gesang Weylas’ invites the listener into the world of the mysterious goddes Weyla who wistfully dreams of the shores of her distant homeland. From Ganymed to Christ, Dido to the Virgin Mary, Arianna to St Peter, this recital disc richly illustrates the lives and events surrounding the ‘divine muses’ who inspired these composers.
  • “In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better …but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things … in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – ‘the most wretched creature in the world’ – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert’s later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven’s last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert’s solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • “In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic-depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – ‘the most wretched creature in the world’ – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. Here, Llyr Williams plays a collection of Schubert solo piano works across a series of releases, once again showing why he is one of the most diverse and extraordinary pianists performing today.
  • The musical world of eighteenth-century Europe was a small one. Despite the problems presented by contemporary standards of transport, it was quite normal for composers in one part of Europe to be entirely au fait with what was happening elsewhere. This is borne out by the closeness of three German composers: Telemann, godfather to C.P.E. Bach; Pisendel; and J.S. Bach, who admired both his compatriots and composed some astoundingly difficult music for the violinist Pisendel. This programme celebrates their music as well as the music of those who contributed to their musical heritage. Included alongside the German triumvirate are works by Vivaldi who physically helped with the composition of Pisendel’s A minor concerto movement, Fasch who was a great friend of Pisendel and Telemann, and Brescianello, an Italian who helped the dissemination of Italian instrumental music throughout the German-speaking lands and whose concertos were played in Dresden by Pisendel.
  • The programme performed here by baritone Christopher Maltman and pianist Joseph Middleton was born whilst Maltman was studying at the Royal Academy of Music. The compositions have been selected to form a coherent but flexible narrative that produces a touching memoire to all those affected by war. One composer chosen for the record, George Butterworth, was a casualty of the First World War: in September 1915 he went to the trenches and was killed, aged 31, in the Battle of the Somme on 5th August 1916. The use of his composition, A Shropshire Lad, is touching in this instance. It gives the listener a more sensitive perspective of the loss in World War One, almost allowing the listener to see the faces of those who passed away, most of whom were young ‘lads’ from various parts of the country.
  • Tchaikovsky’s contemporaries tell us that he was good enough to become a concert pianist, if he had chosen to follow that path. But he preferred to focus on composition, and rarely performed in public concerts. His interest in the piano is mainly to be found in his many pieces for the instrument, and since most of these were suitable for amateurs with solid skills, they sold well and played an important role in building up his fame. Despite this, some view Tchaikovsky’s solo piano works as poor quality. Peter Donohoe disagrees, insisting that all music requires performers to find the right approach, so he does not see Tchaikovsky as any kind of exception. He writes: “It is inexplicable to me that Tchaikovsky’s solo piano music should remain so infrequently performed, containing as it does all of the composer’s characteristic harmony, his wonderful melodic gift, his capacity for majestic gesture, magically beautiful moments, immense sadness, and passages of extreme excitement. His piano writing is often orchestral in texture, but also demonstrates the direct but very diverse pianistic influences of Liszt and Schumann, and incorporates in an almost naive way folk-style dance rhythms and melodies from Russia. This treasure trove is immensely rewarding to play, whether it be a small-scale salon piece such as the Humoresque Op. 10 No 2, or large in scale, such as is the gigantic Grand Sonata in G Major.”
  • Over thirty years ago, Fretwork made its first recording – well, technically speaking it was the second album to be recorded, but the first to be released – and it was called ‘In nomine’, which consisted mainly of 16th-century examples of this remarkable instrumental form. While this isn’t an anniversary of that release, Fretwork wanted to look both back to that first release and forward, to bring the genre up to date. There were several examples of the In nomine and related forms that couldn’t be recorded in 1987, and this album seeks to complete the project. The form was created unwittingly by John Taverner (1490-1545). His 6-part mass, Gloria tibi Trinitas, is based on the plainchant of that name. In the Sanctus, at the words Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord), the six-part texture is pared down to two and three parts; and then, with the words in nomine Domini, Taverner makes, for the only time in the mass, a complete statement of the cantus firmus, accompanied by three voices. This four- parts section – very beautiful as it is – must have struck contemporaries as some kind of perfection, to be used as a template, to be emulated and copied. And then those copies were copied and changed again. Typically, an In nomine would have the alto, or second part, playing this cantus firmus in long slow notes of equal length. The other parts would weave counterpoint around it, sometimes commenting upon it, sometimes ignoring it. Typically, the cantus firmus starts and ends on the note D – but there are many exceptions to all these ‘rules’.
  • Born in Weimar, Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-88) was the fifth child and second surviving son of JS Bach and his first wife Maria Barbara. By his own account he had no other teacher for composition and keyboard except his father. Nevertheless, the majority of Emanuel’s earliest works owe more to the influence of Telemann and other exponents of the new galant style, while already suggesting his own progressive instinct. At the age of twenty-four, after seven years studying law, Emanuel decided to devote himself to music. In 1738 he accepted the position of keyboard player at the court of the Prussian crown prince – the future Frederick the Great. After nearly thirty years of royal service he left Berlin and moved to Hamburg, where he occupied the positions of Music Director and Cantor until his death. Described by the Guardian as a performer of “fearless intensity”, former ECHO Rising Star Tamsin Waley-Cohen has established herself as one of the most insightful and versatile young British violinists. Described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘in a class of his own’ James Baillieu has been the prize-winner of the Wigmore Hall Song Competition, Das Lied International Song Competition, Kathleen Ferrier and Richard Tauber Competitions. He plays these C.P.E. Bach compositions on a modern piano.
  • Arcadia

    £12.00
    Oliver Davis graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1994 and has since composed numerous concertos, ballet scores, albums, soundtracks and television scores working with many of the major London orchestras. The Infinite Ocean was composed for choreographer Edwaard Liang and was commissioned by San Francisco Ballet for the Unbound festival, 2018. Liang requested the work to be in six sections and to feature a solo violin. The aim of Arcadia was to create a piece which evoked an idyllic serene place. Gemini was specifically composed for violinist Kerenza Peacock and was designed to explore the contrasting styles of her playing. The Suite for piano and orchestra was written for Huw Watkins on piano and heavily involves thematic development throughout. Inferno began life as a short orchestral sketch, which gradually evolved into a full, single-movement piece. Lastly, The Elements was commissioned by The Hanke Brothers, who specifically wanted a piece describing the four elements. The ensemble containing piano, viola, recorder and tuba, produces a unique timbre, and the piece explores the possible various aspects of this timbre.
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical "In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – 'the most wretched creature in the world' – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert's later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven's last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert's solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical "In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – 'the most wretched creature in the world' – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert's later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven's last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert's solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.