Release date: 3 November 2023
When the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra marked its Centenary in 2020, there was never any question that new music would be at the heart of the celebrations. The orchestra marked its 100th year by commissioning 20 emerging composers to write short orchestral works to be played throughout the 2020 season – but then Covid-19 intervened.
Instead all 20 works were brought together in a single concert in January 2023, when the audience at Symphony Hall, Birmingham were treated to a bumper celebration of new music by rising-star composers. The concert was conducted by Clark Rundell and recorded for release by NMC, ensuring that these new works are available to be heard globally and in perpetuity.
The featured composers range widely in experience; for some this was their first ever opportunity to write for full symphony orchestra, whereas others have recordings already released by NMC. The only restriction given was that the piece was around four minutes in duration. The resulting music is hugely varied in style and sound, making this new release, Sounds New, an impressive showcase of the range and breadth of contemporary orchestral writing happening in the UK today.
Some of the works take existing music as their source, such as Laurence Osborn's surreal, angular The Biggest Thing I've Ever Squashed, and Bethan Morgan-Williams’ Parti Di-ffiniau which warps motifs from Gustav Holst's Jupiter guided by numbers associated with the city of Birmingham. Several of the works feature vocalists, including Millicent B James' gospel-inspired Come show them the River, and Héloïse Werner's playfully gestural crossings. The haunting darkness of Joel Järventausta's Bourrée and Ben Nobuto's unsettling Egress, contrast with Ryan Latimer's luminous Bellwether and
the fireworks of Aileen Sweeney's Glisk.
"Rundell and the CBSO were marvellously even-handed in their enthusiasm for all the pieces; all the performances seemed fabulously assured." The Guardian
1. Benjamin Graves FanFare
2. Laurence Osborn The Biggest Thing I've Ever Squashed
3. Aileen Sweeney Glisk
4. Yfat Soul Zisso A Standing-stone
5. Chloe Knibbs Strings Bilateral
6. Florence Anna Maunders In the Land of Hypocrisy
7. Bethan Morgan-Williams Parti Di-ffiniau
8. Ryan Latimer Bellwether
9. Héloïse Werner crossings
10. Stephane Crayton Encore
11. Simmy Singh Lament for the Earth
12. Tyriq Baker The Radiance of the Spirit
13. Joel Järventausta Bourrée
14. Kristina Arakelyan Prelude and Allegro
15. Ben Nobuto Egress
16. Millicent B James Come show them the River
17. Angela Elizabeth Slater Unravelling the crimson sky
18. Nathan James Dearden anthem
19. Anna Appleby Sonnet 43
20. Liam Taylor-West Turning Points
"There is wonderful variety within this programme, from the glittery Glisk by Aileen Sweeney to Anna Appleby's song without words Sonnet 43, all beautifully realised by the CBSO." BBC Music Magazine
"An incredible vocal soaring and darting, and goading the orchestra to respond in kind. She's a brilliantly alert and vivid performer." BBC Radio 3 New Music Show (about Heloise Werner's 'crossings')
Recorded in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on 29th January 2023.
DAVID LEFEBER Producer & Recording Engineer
Release date: 3 November 2023
Catalogue number: NMCDL3054