Richard Baker: The Tyranny of Fun

Richard Baker: The Tyranny of Fun

NMC Recordings
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Release date: 15 March 2024

The latest release in NMC's acclaimed Debut Disc series comes from one of the foremost composer-conductors of his generation, Richard Baker. His first full-length portrait album The Tyranny of Fun brings together a collection of Baker's chamber works composed between 1994 and 2022, performed by a varied range of musical forces.

Baker's compositions weave a tapestry of eclectic creative catalysts and reference points, often using existing fragments of music, film, or choreography as their starting point. In the liner notes for this album, Steph Power writes that "the music of Richard Baker reveals a refined sensibility deeply engaged with the structures and experience of meaning in contemporary culture".

Several works on this new album were born from Baker's close relationship with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in recent years. The title work is inspired by George Balanchine's ballet La Valse, but adopts the late 70s and early 80s disco of pre-AIDS epidemic New York as its musical material. Also composed against the backdrop of tumultuous world events is the more recent work Motet II for CHROMA Ensemble, which Baker wrote while watching the wave of international protests against structural racism provoked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, from his home in rural Wales.

Other focal points on the album include the concertante work Learning to Fly which features the unusual timbre of the basset clarinet played by soloist Oliver Janes, and the short choral work To Keep a True Lent, performed by the Choir of King's College Cambridge under the direction of the late Sir Stephen Cleobury.

NMC’s Debut Discs are crucial calling cards, valuable for showcasing composers to a wider public, giving them the opportunity to present a first full portrait album of their work. Debut Discs has to date supported 22 releases.

Richard Baker diatonic music box, conductor
CHROMA Ensemble
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Finnegan Downie Dear conductor
Richard Benjafield percussion
Chris Brannick percussion
Oliver Janes basset clarinet
Melinda Maxwell oboe
The Choir of King's College Cambridge
Sir Stephen Cleobury conductor




'NMC adds to its invaluable Debut Discs series with this timely release devoted to the music of Richard Baker, expertly realized by ensembles and musicians with which has been associated,' Arcana.FM

'Dizzyingly imaginative' Tom Service, BBC Radio 3 New Music Show


This recording was made possible with support from Vaughan Williams Foundation and Richard Baker is supported by PRS Foundation’s Composers’ Fund. Thank you to the trusts, foundations and individuals who are investing in NMC’s Debut Discs series.






Crank was recorded in the Parry-Williams Building, Aberystwyth University on 10 December 2023.
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer

Motet II was recorded in the Menuhin Hall on 4 August 2022.
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Enginer & Producer

The Tyranny of Fun, Learning to Fly, Hommagesquisse and Hwyl fawr ffrindiau were recorded in the CBSO Centre on 5 & 6 November 2022.
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer

Angelus was recorded in the Church of St Giles, Kentish Town, London on 19 April 2004. 
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer

To Keep A True Lent was recorded in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge on 29 February 2012. 

Cover Art by Ed Firth.

Release date: 15 March 2024
Catalogue number: NMC D275