Welsh-born Huw Watkins is one of today’s leading composer-pianists and this album (his second for NMC Recordings) showcases his vibrant, lyrical and impeccably crafted orchestral writing.
Both the Flute and Violin Concertos were composed for soloists with whom he already had a close working relationship. Adam Walker is the principal flautist for the London Symphony Orchestra, who Watkins describes as having an 'amazing sound and control of his instrument'.
The delicate orchestration in the Flute Concerto allows the solo flute to take flight as it weaves in and out with skittish motifs. Alina Ibragimova is the soloist in the Violin Concerto, premiered at the BBC Proms in 2010. The piece harnesses Ibragimova’s dynamic and intense, fiercely intelligent playing, switching from attacking virtuosity and molten lyricism, often in an instant. The result is dramatic and utterly compelling.
In this album's liner notes, Steph Power writes that Watkins has 'long seemed a symphonist in waiting, with a natural affinity for big-boned yet finely-wrought drama'. Cast in two movements, Huw Watkins’ Symphony does not strictly adhere to classical symphonic form. Rather, the composer interprets this great tradition through his development of ideas and use of the orchestra. The result is a thrilling, huge and percussive sound, brimming with excitement and energy.
Alina Ibragimova appears on this recording with kind permission from Hyperion Records.
Edward Gardner appears on this recording with kind permission from Chandos Records.Alina Ibragimova violin
Adam Walker flute
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner conductor
Ryan Wigglesworth conductor
PRESTO CLASSICAL EDITOR'S CHOICE SEPTEMBER 2018
GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE NOVEMBER 2018
GRAMOPHONE CRITICS' CHOICE 2018
THE SUNDAY TIMES, TOP 100 BEST ALBUMS OF 2018
INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARDS NOMINATION 2019
CLASSICAL SOURCE EDITOR'S CHOICE 2018
'Three scores uniting a powerful imagination and craft' The Sunday Times
‘lucid, intricately detailed and rewarding.’ MusicWeb International
‘beautifully crafted, intelligent works’ Planet Hugill
'he takes rapidly moving strands of sound and weaves them into inventive textures, producing quirky, sparkly effects' BBC Music Magazine
‘the music dances through a musical landscape full of light and shade … strongly recommended.’ Gramophone
‘It is not often that a new work comes along as beguiling as Huw Watkins’s Flute Concerto’ Financial Times ★★★★
‘Watkins’ music speaks with a distinctively recognisable voice’ Financial Times ★★★★
‘The flute darts hither and thither, as if blown about on the breeze, and the landscape over which it flies reveals exquisitely drawn pockets of beauty and expression’ Financial Times ★★★★
'Huw Watkins is a composer of finely-wrought scores building with individuality on a glorious past' Classical Source ★★★★★
'A first-class release. (The) tapings are very impressive and the performances highly skilled and wholly dedicated' Classical Source ★★★★★
'A fresh and modern interpretation of traditional form … Watkins stands apart from the crowd' American Record Guide
With thanks to The Hinrichsen Foundation for supporting NMC’s Hallé Series through its New Initiatives programme.
NMC is especially grateful for the support of Jeremy Marchant and the Colwinston Charitable Trust in making this recording.
With special thanks to the Britten-Pears Foundation for supporting the commissioning of Symphony, and to the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Fidelio Charitable Trust, for supporting the commissioning of Flute Concerto.
Flute Concerto and Symphony were recorded at Hallé St Peter's on 4-6 September 2017
STEVE PORTNOI Recording Engineer
COLIN MATTHEWS Recording Producer
Violin Concerto was recorded live by the BBC at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall on 17 August 2010
NEIL PEMBERTON Recording Engineer
ANN McKAY Recording Producer
(P) 2010 BBC © 2018 NMC Recordings