Drama, or a fascination with theatrical possibilities, is present in many of David Sawer’s works, and he has written a number of scores for the theatre and for radio. Operas include From Morning to Midnight which received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Skin Deep with librettist Armando Iannucci, and The Skating Rink, which premiered at Garsington Opera to critical acclaim.
All three of the pieces on this album (David’s third for NMC) have a connection with dance: the Rumpelstiltskin Suite (2011) originated in Sawer’s 2009, 70-minute ballet Rumpelstiltskin; the early ensemble piece Cat’s-Eye (1986) was choreographed by Richard Alston for Rambert in 1992; and premiered in concert in 2016, April\March was commissioned for the Royal Ballet.
David Sawer describes Rumpelstiltskin as “a grotesque fable for our times”. He leaves it to us to ponder the modern-day resonances of this dark tale of greed, deceit, cruelty and abuse.
Cats-Eye is inspired by the fantascope projector, with its spectacular optical tricks that shocked audiences in the 1800s. A simple device called “l’oeil-de-chat”, caused these images to appear and disappear: as the eye closed, the source of light was extinguished. In this piece Sawer brings in instruments together – often in pairs – then they are pulled apart or pitted against others. Past and present is explored in April\March – the back to front calendar of the title pointing to a reversal in time.
This album also includes the bonus track Between, a gentle, beautifully ethereal work which captures a kind of otherworldly essence of the harp completely without sentimentalism. Available for FREE with all purchases of the Rumpelstiltskin album. Also available separately.
Martyn Brabbins conductor
'These three dance-related scores embody a deep compositional deftness' Sunday Times
''unusual and creative... the music is striking' The Art Music Lounge
'this commercial release has long been awaited... Martyn Brabbins and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group perform it with the precision and idiomatic panache it deserves.' Classical Iconoclast
'This performance by BCMG under Martyn Brabbins – recorded with pin-sharp clarity in Birmingham's CBSO Centre - could hardly be more vivid ... This disc is a splendid addition to his recorded repertory.' Gramophone
'He develops such a pictorial tone language... this disc is truly attractive.' Pizzicato
'amusing and coherently structured' American Record Guide
NMC is very grateful for to Andrew Tusa, Bonnie Horner, Nicholas Berwin, Martin, Stephanie, Jake & Rosa Sawer, and Nigel & Naomi Yandell for their support of this album.
This recording was made possible by funding from RVW Trust, PRS Foundation, The Hinrichsen Foundation and Royal Academy of Music.
All works recorded at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 13-15 April 2019
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer
SUSANNE STANZELEIT Digital Editing