Bernard Rands: Chains Like the Sea

Bernard Rands: Chains Like the Sea

NMC Recordings
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Release Date: 8 February 2019 

Bernard Rands was born in Sheffield and came to prominence during the 1960s as one of the major British composers of his generation; his work championed by the likes of Boulez and Berio. In the 1970s, Rands took up a Professorship at the University of California and then at Harvard University, and has lived in the United States ever since. In America his music developed through a series of high-profile commissions and a seven-year residency with the Philadelphia Orchestra, working with Riccardo Muti, and he has written for all the major orchestras in the USA and across the world.

In 2014, for his 80th birthday, the BBC Philharmonic, and Royal Northern College of Music produced a series of concerts celebrating Rands' music. This series culminated in a portrait concert at the BBC Philharmonic’s studio in Salford, which is where the recordings on this new album come from, released to celebrate his 85th.

The earliest piece on this album is the Cello Concerto (1996), composed for Mstislav Rostropovitch. The work's first and third movements are woven with the traditional Welsh folk song Hiraeth. Rands studied in Wales, in Bangor, and learned to speak the Welsh language; the word ‘hiraeth’ connotes ‘nostalgia’ or ‘deep longing for the homeland’. A Welsh theme continues in Chains Like the Sea (2008), with two movements that take lines from the poem Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, one of Rands’ great heroes.

For the third and most recent pieces on this release, we move to warmer climes. Danza Petrificada is a virtuosic showpiece commemorating the centenary of the Mexican revolution. The work is coloured by rattling tambourines, suggesting the ubiquitous percussion of Mexico and the ever present cicadas of the Mexican night.

Johannes Moser cello
BBC Philharmonic 
Clark Rundell conductor




‘Bernard Rands’ Dance Petrificada from the BBC Philharmonic’s album ‘Chains of the Sea’ is a fabulous thing, brimming with tantalising colours and textures. It also gets a big tick for the artwork too.’

'Finely crafted … [an] Italianate expressivity, exampled by these three works'. The Sunday Times

'[The Recordings] provide striking proof of the vividness of Rands' orchestral writing'. The Guardian ★★★★

'Playful and exploratory'. A Closer Listen

'RTE Sound Out May Music Pick' RTE Sound Out Recommends

'A brilliant, terrific disc' Classical Music Magazine ★★★★★

'Unleashing all the wonder of Rand's orchestration' Gramophone

Official Charts


With special thanks to Schott Helicon Music for their support of this album.
This album was funded in part through a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc.
With thanks to Simon Webb for his help in bringing this project to fruition.


Recorded by the BBC on 14 June 2014 at the BBC Philharmonic Studio, Salford and first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 18 October 2014

SARAH DEVONALD Recording Producer

Catalogue number: NMC D253
Release Date: 8 February 2019