Anthony Payne: Visions and Journeys

Anthony Payne: Visions and Journeys

NMC Recordings
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Release date: 17 May 2024

Days before his sudden death in 2021, composer Anthony Payne spoke with NMC's Founder and Executive Producer Colin Matthews about plans for a future album of his unreleased orchestral works. Thanks to the generous support of individuals including many of Payne's friends and colleagues, NMC is pleased to be able to pay tribute to Payne and his close relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra through the release of this new album, Visions and Journeys.

Among the remarkable generation of British composers born in the 1930s, Payne is probably best known for his masterful realistion of the sketches Edward Elgar left behind for an unfinished Third Symphony. Recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for release by NMC in 1998, and described by The Times as “a landmark in the history of British music,” this work quickly became NMC's best-selling album of all time (a title it holds to this day).

"For a time its huge success dominated his life, and he found it unexpectedly difficult to return to his own music," recalls Colin Matthews. "Visions and Journeys, completed in 2002, marked his return to large-scale composition". Here, a BBC Proms recording of the album's title work, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, is paired with exceptional studio recordings of two other works, again played by the BBCSO, this time conducted by Martyn Brabbins.

In the programme note for The Seeds Long Hidden (1992-94), Payne details the transcendental feeling he experienced when hearing Brahms' First Symphony for the first time as a child. In this set of Orchestral Variations, he charts this important moment in his musical life, as well as several "other formative encounters with composers who have helped to shape my view of things."

Payne describes Half-Heard in the Stillness (1987) as a tone poem, which "somehow draws together the sonorous 'objets trouvés' which float into the mind during intense contemplation of a still landscape".

A vital part of NMC's work is to provide a platform for works of the giants of the twentieth century which have not yet been released. We are pleased to be releasing this album during our 35th Anniversary year, and are grateful to all who have made this important project possible.

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins conductor
Sir Andrew Davis conductor




'Thoughtful and fascinating orchestral pieces … I sat engrossed by Payne’s unshowy ability to cast a spell and be modern and romantic at the same time' ★★★★ The Times (Geoff Brown)  

crisp vivid musical images★★★★ Guardian (Andrew Clements)

' A wonderful listen. NMC D281 is enthusiastically recommended, and then some' Colin's Column


With thanks to those who donated to the Anthony Payne Album Appeal.

In 2022 NMC launched the Tony Payne Album Appeal as a means of crowdfunding for this release. Although we have licensed existing recordings, there was still a considerable fundraising need to enable the album to go ahead as planned. We are exceptionally grateful for all the donations we received, and our heartfelt thanks goes to:

Michael Berkeley
Natalie Bleicher
Andrew Burn
Anthony Burton
Dennis John Davis
Brian Elias
Matthew Frost
Cathy Graham
Fiona Grant
Julian Grant
Harriet Greer
Sally Groves
Anthony Henfre
Rosemary Johnson
Robert Keeley
John R Lister
Alix MacSweeney
Colin Matthews
Monica McCabe
Katharine Melville
Roger Montgomery
Dominic Nudd
James Rodley
Julian Rushton
Judith Serota
Richard Stevens
Greg & Rebecca Smith
Richard & Baina Smith
Niki Tompkinson
Paul Webster


Orchestral Variations: The Seeds Long Hidden and Half-Heard in the Stillness were recorded by the BBC in Maida Vale 1, London, on 22 September 2006.
SIMON HANCOCK Recording Engineer

Visions and Journeys was recorded live at the BBC Proms, in the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 5 August 2002.
ANN MCKAY Producer
PHILIP BURWELL Recording Engineer

JIM UNWIN Mastering

Catalogue no: NMCD281