• 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.
  • Will Todd is one of the UKs most popular and performed modern choral composers. His output includes works for choir, stage works, and orchestral works, and his music has been featured on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 and Classic FM, and performed all over the UK, Europe and the USA. On this disc, Nigel Short conducts superlative performances of his works by his BBC Music Magazine Award-winning choir Tenebrae and the English Chamber Orchestra. This compilation of his works includes the premiere recording of a new comission 'The Call of Wisdom', which on June 5th 2012 will be presented on the occasion of a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. [A] disc of miniature but perfectly formed musical marvelsGramophone
  • The grammy-award winning artist Hila Plitmann is known worldwide for her astonishing musicianship, light and beautiful voice, and the ability to perform challenging new works. On this disc she brings together a very personal programme that draws on her familial roots in Jewish culture and song; from traditional folk music (Five Yiddish Songs), to contemporary compositions (Bridges of Love, Tehilim and I Never Saw Another Butterfly). The disc also features the Five Hebrew Love Songs, with poetry by Plitmann set to music by the composer Eric Whitacre. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Plitmann's selection is carefully chosen for maximum variety ofexpression and instrumentation [and] Julian Bliss proves a sensitive partner to the charismatic Plitmann BBC Music Magazine Julian Bliss threatens to steal the show on clarinet, but there’s beauty in the voice and enough variety in the works to keep the ears attentiveLa Scena Musicale
  • 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.”
  • Above the opening notes of The Protecting Veil, John Tavener wrote Transcendent With Awesome Majesty, communicating the scale of this universal, timeless, structurally perfect and emotionally powerful work. In the composer’s words, “the cello represents The Mother of God and never stops singing.” Indeed, the cello sings without stopping for the entire 46 minutes of the piece, requiring huge mental and physical stamina. Matthew Barley leads Sinfonietta Rīga in this exploration of Tavener’s musical works and inspirations, interspersing performances with readings of WB Yeats and Frithjof Schuon by renowned actors Julie Christieand Olwyn Fouéré. The influence Tavener drew from Indian music in The Protecting Veil is also explored further in Barley’s performance with tabla player Sukhvinder ‘Pinky’ Singh in The Song of Separation and Waiting by Pandit Sultan Khan. Matthew Barley is known internationally as a cellist, improviser, arranger, music animateur, and as Artistic Director of Between The Notes. His musical world is focused on projects that connect people in different ways, blurring the boundaries that never really existed between genres and people.
  • The creation of the Song Cycle as a new art form in the early 19th Century was paved with musical experiments and innovations. On this disc we illustrate the progress made by the great Lied composers of the day toward the cyclical perfection finally achieved by Beethoven and Schubert, and since emulated by Schumann, Loewe, Wolf, Fauré, Britten, Shostakovich and so many others. A Song Cycle is distinguishable from a collection of songs or a Liederspiel by some type of interior cohesion: a unifying theme, text from a single source, a narrative. It could be a musical connection: recurring devices and motifs, key relationships between songs, or perhaps a fixed performance order. Usually, a combination of these criteria is necessary to bestow on any song collection the title of Song Cycle.
  • A lyrical collection of chamber works for tenor and guitar – Sometime I Sing unites Gramophone award-winning tenor Mark Padmore with Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski in settings of texts by Thomas Wyatt, Vikram Seth, John Donne and Edward Thomas by the composer Alec Roth. Roth is a UK-based composer who works across a wide range of musical genres, including stage works, vocal, choral, orchestral, instrumental, and Javanese gamelan – his former posts include Founder/Director of the Royal Festival Hall Gamelan Programme and Southbank Gamelan Players; Music Director of the Baylis Programme, English National Opera; and Associate Composer, Opera North. A superb disc of music by a prolific and successful composer who has eschewed the passing modernisms of our days.  ... this is a disc which deserves widest distribution and take up on radio programmes - Musical Pointers With the elegant guitarist Morgan Szymanski, one of Britain's finest tenors explores song settings by Alec Roth. Poems by Vikram Seth are treated mysteriously: slow-moving harmonies, evocative lyrical lines. The 16th·century poet Thomas Wyatt is set more playfully, as befits his wry epigrams on love, lust and mortality. And a bonus: English folksongs, arranged as artfully as Britten did - The Times
  • Carducci Quartet launches Shostakovich15 – its project to perform all 15 of Shostakovich’s string quartets in 2015. Commemorating 40 years since Shostakovich’s death, Carducci Quartet performs several complete cycles throughout the year and releases this recording of Shostakovich’s fourth, eighth and eleventh string quartets – all landmark works in the string quartet repertory.

    Their warmly engineered release of three of the Russian master's quartets is undoubtedly a fine achievement, boasting excellent ensemble, musical insight and sensitive attention to detail - BBC Music Magazine [The Carducci Quartet] clearly have the technical measure of these three highly contrasting works from Shostakovich's quartet output...this well-recorded disc holds out much promise of things to comeGramophone The performances are both polished and passionate - The Sunday Times Great musical flair...the Carducci's are superb hereMusic Web International
  • Naji Hakim has established himself as a performer and composer whose works are indelibly tied to his Christian faith. Recognised with a papal medal for his activities, these pieces are drawn from the span of his compositional career, combining organ music with string quartet and solo soprano.
  • Celebrated soloists Roderick Wiliams and Christopher Glynn perform a new English translation Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. Composed in 1827 whilst in the grip of the illness that would ultimately kill him, Schubert’s setting of Wilhelm Muller’s poetry takes on an added tragic interpretation as it follows the narrative of a spurned lover travelling through a cold and barren landscape. This disc is the first in a series of three English language programmes of Schubert’s song cycles. Future releases include The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) and The Fair Maid of the Mill (Die schöne Müllerin). The immediacy of the storytelling is immaculate - The Sunday Times The biggest gain is Roderick Williams’s fabulous delivery and his beautiful creamy voice which I can never get too much of, and supported beautifully again by Chris Glynn, so musically it’s great - BBC Radio 3 Record Review It's exceptionally effective, and mandatory listening if, like me, you're not a fluent German speakerThe Arts Desk This is an amazing disc, not the Winterreise to end all Winterreises but an essential complement to them. I gather that Glynn and Signum have recordings the other two cycles up their sleeve, which is good news indeedPlanet Hugill Those who have been longing for an English version of Winterreise need not hesitate, and avid collectors of this song cycle – like myself – will find that this is a valuable addition to their collectionMusic Web International
  • Christopher Glynn continues his series of late Schubert song cycles in English, joined by celebrated soloists Sir John Tomlinson, Sophie Bevan, Julian Bliss and Alec Frank-Gemmill.

    Titled by the works first publisher following Schubert’s death, Swansong (Schwanengesang) D 957 sets sets the words of poets Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine and Johann Gabriel Seidl in songs that cover a variety of different emotional states. The lighthearted Love Message (Liebesbotschaft), with its rippling accompaniment, addresses a murmuring brook with the hope of true love. The bone-chilling Doppelgänger with its stark, slowly tolling chords, finds the protagonist crazed with a nocturnal vision of himself agonizing at the empty doorstep of his lost love. Renowned for his clear diction and powerful voice, Sir John Tomlinson brings his insight and nuance to these profound works.

    Reminiscent of the scoring for The Shepherd on the Rock and composed in the same year, On the River (Auf dem Strom) combines soprano and horn in a setting of a poem by Ludwig Rellstab. Originally given to Beethoven who did not live long enough to set it, Schubert took up the words in a work that is a subtle homage to the composer.

    The 1828 work The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) sets words by Wilhelm Müller and German playwright Helmina von Chézy, and was composed in gratitude to the soprano Anna Milder-Hauptmann. Here performed by Sophie Bevan and Julian Bliss, it tells the story of a shepherd lamenting the distance between him and his beloved before a reflection on loneliness and grief. The final section celebrates the arrival of spring in a hopeful conclusion.

    The creamy clarity of both Alec Frank-Gemmill’s horn and Julian Bliss’s clarinet sound is a perfect foil for Sophie Bevan’s exquisite, rounded legato - BBC Music Magazine

    Christopher Glynn’s playing is excellent throughout - Gramophone

  • Husband and wife duo David Kenedy and Rianka Bouwmeester partner for the first time in a new recording of two late works by Chopin and Schubert. In this very personal recital, Kenedy explores his own musical history and connection with the songs of Schubert: The Arpeggione Sonata is one of Schubert’s most lyrical instrumental works, almost a song cycle in itself, whilst Chopin’s passionate Sonata brims with feeling, as well as quoting musically from Schubert’s Winterreise in several places.
  • “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.
  • 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.