Richard Causton: La Terra Impareggiabile

Richard Causton: La Terra Impareggiabile

NMC Recordings
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Release Date: 28 October 2022

Every piece of music warps time in its own way, but Richard Causton's music does this particularly tangibly. Appropriately, the piece which first brought him major attention, The Persistence of Memory (1995), takes its title from a Salvador Dalí painting of melting clocks, as if in anticipation of what was to come. This new album La terra impareggiabile, Causton's second full-length release, brings together two works from different areas of his compositional output: a large-scale orchestral work and a song cycle, both of which explore and obscure our perceptions of time and everyday reality.

Ik zeg: NU (I Say: NOW) was premiered in 2019 by Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, to critical acclaim. Inspired by the title of a book by a Dutch relative of Causton's, it reflects on a statement made by the author's ten-year-old great-nephew: "I say now now, and a moment later it is already history". Causton was inspired by the profundity of this metaphor for how we experience music, but also for life itself.

The piece is constructed from two contrasting musical ideas that run throughout: one extremely fast, hyperactive, and weightless; the other extremely slow, with patterns shifting almost inperceptively over time. Causton deftly holds these two temporalities at play simultaneously, pulling the ear in different directions. “Now-ness and then-ness move in parallel in this spacious, beautifully constructed work” (Anna Picard, The Times).

The internally complex temporal landscapes of Causton's music contrast with not just the spans of time in which they are heard, but also the durations over which they are created. The song-cycle La terra impareggiabile (The Incomparable Earth) consists of ten discrete songs which were composed between 1996 and 2007, and refined over a further decade, forming the mainstay of Causton's output during that period.

Performed by baritone Marcus Farnsworth and Huw Watkins (piano), the songs engage with ideas of love and death; two age-old themes of song cycles. Composed to poems by Sicilian-born poet Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968), the musical material of the songs captures the emotional struggle in Quasimodo’s poetry. Now heard in its completion, La terra impareggiabile triumphs as one of Causton's most all-encompassing explorations of, and in, time.

Richard Causton's debut album, Millennium Scenes (NMC D192), was released in 2014 as part of NMC's acclaimed Debut Discs series, and was named No.1 in the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Records of the Year (Contemporary Music section).

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo 
Marcus Farnsworth baritone
Huw Watkins piano




"...a magnificently sweeping sequence of declamatory power and lyrical intimacy." The Guardian

"This pairing of Causton's most recent orchestral statement with his settings of Salvatore Quasimodo makes for a provocative as well as an engrossing juxtoposition." Gramophone

"It's about time. Not just the wait since Richard Causton's previous NMC recording, but the typically atypical explorations of temporality in these two substantial works." BBC Music Magazine

"Writ large or in the intimacy of song, Causton’s music is imaginatively written in an attractive idiom. La Terra Impareggiabile is one of our favorite recordings of 2022." Sequenza21

"La terra impareggiabile (‘The Incomparable Earth’)
is a magnificent cycle...recorded here by Marcus Farnsworth and Huw Watkins in a performance of alternately gripping power and constrained sensitivity...has enchanted my ear more with each hearing. Terrific." Gramophone

"Sakari Oramo at the head of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, meticulous with the different expressive planes of the orchestra, interprets this work, which invites you to enter a world of wonderful sonorities that, despite the perception that time escapes, they move the soul of those who listen to it." Sonograma Magazine


Ik zeg: NU was recorded by the BBC at the Barbican Hall on 23 January 2019 and first broadcast on 12 February 2019 on BBC Radio 3.

Neal Pemberton Recording & Editing Engineer
Ann McKay Producer

La terra impareggiable was recorded at Potton Hall on 16 & 17 March 2020

Aaron Holloway-Nahum Recording Engineer & Producer
Daniel Gethin Page Turner
Jenny Eason Page Turner

David Lefeber Mastering

(P) 2022 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2022 NMC Recordings Ltd

Release Date: 28 October 2022
Catalogue no: NMC D273