Howard Skempton: Ben Somewhen

Howard Skempton: Ben Somewhen

NMC Recordings
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Astoundingly, this is Howard Skempton’s first full-length disc for NMC – his CD single, the deceptively simple orchestral study Lento, was one of NMC's first releases in 1992 and has been one of our best-sellers ever since.

This collection contrasts Skempton's choral works - including the dancing setting of Shelley’s The Voice of the Spirits and spiritual Rise Up, My Love - with chamber music ranging from the Suite from Delicate, for 2 cellos and percussion, to the exuberant (yet very English), Chamber Concerto. The title piece, Ben Somewhen, was commissioned by BCMG's Sound Investment scheme for solo double bass and ensemble, and was inspired by Ben Hartley's drawings of rural life.

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
James Weeks conductor



'Skempton's music is deceptively simple, affording familiar musical materials a gentle, non-ironic regard. Satie may be a near comparison, but without his wackiness and weirdness. In recent years, Skempton's concentrated more on vocal and choral music, which gets haunting performances by Exaudi. A delightful disc.' The Wire

'An enticing collection … Exaudi and BCMG are manifestly attuned to the idiom, and recorded with ideal clarity. Informative notes from James Weeks and the composer enhance a release that confirms Skempton's move to the centre of British new music as complete.' Gramophone

'The simplicity of his music, and its tendency to brevity - there are eight works in this collection, the longest of them an 18-minute suite of ballet music - are all deceptive; what one gets within the smallest frame is something totally memorable, perfectly crafted and, in its way, unutterably strange... Each of these pieces, whether the four written for ensemble or those for chorus (settings of Shelley, Flecker, Drinkwater and the Song of Solomon), manages to do something exquisite and totally personal; how Skempton always does it with such economy is a wonder in itself.' Guardian


The choral music on this disc was recorded at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London on 16-17 January 2007.

The instrumental works were recorded at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 14-15 April 2007.
Engineer & Producer: DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS

Cover and booklet illustrations: BEN HARTLEY, © BERNARD SAMUELS

(P) 2007 NMC Recordings Ltd

Catalogue number: NMC D135
Release Date: 3 September 2007