Various: The NMC Songbook

Various: The NMC Songbook

NMC Recordings
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To mark its 20th Anniversary in 2009, NMC Recordings commissioned The NMC Songbook. Nearly 100 composers, ranging from the country’s most highly regarded figures to the younger generation of emerging talents, each wrote a song on the theme of 'Britain', for single voice or duet and a range of accompanying instruments.

The songs are set to text chosen by the composers and cover a vast array of subjects, from lyrics by Blake and Byron and schoolbook rhymes listing the Kings and Queens of England, to extracts from a National Trust brochure, chants from the Leyton Orient terraces, a recipe for whisky, and road rage at the shopping centre Lakeside. Songs are interspersed with instrumental interludes from versions of a Galliard by Thomas Morley, arranged for the Songbook by Colin Matthews.

Andrew Swait treble
Sam Harris treble
Elizabeth Atherton soprano
Claire Booth soprano
Ailish Tynan soprano
Susan Bickley mezzo-soprano
Loré Lixenberg mezzo-soprano
Jean Rigby mezzo-soprano
James Bowman counter-tenor
Michael Chance counter-tenor
Andrew Watts counter-tenor
Benjamin Hulett tenor
Andrew Kennedy tenor
Daniel Norman tenor
Omar Ebrahim baritone
Richard Jackson baritone
Stephan Loges baritone
George Mosley baritone
David Stout baritone
Roderick Williams baritone
Errollyn Wallen voice 
Andrew Ball piano
Iain Burnside piano
Michael Finnissy piano
Andrew Plant piano
Jonathan Powell piano
Huw Watkins piano
Andrew West piano
Lucy Wakeford harp
Jane Chapman harpsichord
Owen Gunnell percussion
Antonis Hatzinikolaou guitar




'This extraordinary project confirms the robust health and endlessly varied landscape of Britain’s new music' John Adams, composer

'Unpredictable, audacious, exhilarating and continually fascinating, the Songbook is an outstanding project. A Lucullan feast for the ears' International Record Review

'The NMC Songbook will remain as a vital document of song composition at a particularly interesting point of development for British music, a point in which the songbook itself will have played no small part' Musical Criticism

'The year's most ambitious and richly enjoyable recording project' Classic FM Magazine

'The performances are uniformly superb ... The more one listens, the more one gains from this set.' The Guardian

'Anyone listening to these discs will find many things to savour… a treasure-trove of delights' BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

'Remarkable …the song is back' Time Out

'an invaluable overview of British music … beautifully sung and played by more than two dozen top performers' The Observer

'One of the most imaginative anniversary projects I have seen' Radio 3 CD Review

'Provides a remarkable snapshot of the oxymoronic mongrelism of UK culture ... ranging from high art and literature to the vernacular and the comic' The Wire

'A treasure-trove of delights'  BBC Music Magazine

'This CD set is a splendid celebration of the award-winning NMC's many achievements over two decades.' New Classics


Supported by Harold Moores Records


All the works on this disc were recorded in Hall One, Kings Place, London between 21 August and 17 September 2008 – except for Alexander Goehr, recorded on 10 November; and Rupert Bawden, David Blake, Helen Grime, Robin Holloway, Emily Howard, Morgan Hayes and Jonathan Powell, recorded at Cadogan Hall, London on 30 September 2008; the songs by Gerald Barry and Luke Stoneham were recorded by their composers

NMC would like to thank: All the composers, singers and accompanists involved in The NMC Songbook for their readiness to take part in such a complicated project; Peter Millican for the use of Kings Place; technical staff at Kings Place, especially Scott Myers, Bruno Silva and Jacob Zwart; and staff of Kings Place  Music Foundation, particularly Zoe Jeyes, Jen Mitchell and Gaia Saccomano; Jonathan Cole, for guesting on balloon on tss-k-haa; John Casken for volunteer page-turning; Sam Harrop and Greg McKernon for typesetting manuscripts; Christine Doyle of The National Trust, West Midlands Region for Houses and Gardens in the Heart of England; Katie Honey and Ross Cole, interns, for general help and interviewing; and Iain Burnside, for inspiration and advice.

Recording engineer: DAVID LEFEBER
Production co-ordinator: HANNAH VLCEK
Digital editing & mastering: DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS

Additional production credits:

Claudia Molitor my favourite sound. Backing track created by CLAUDIA MOLITOR.
Dai Fujikura Lake Side. Engineer PAUL FRETWELL University of Kent; Producer and digital editor: DAI FUJIKURA. Preparation: RICHARD BLACK
Gerald Barry The Importance of Being Earnest recorded at RTÉ Studios, Dublin. Engineer RICHARD McCULLOUGH
Luke Stoneham 25. Recorded and edited by LUKE STONEHAM

(P) 2009 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2009 NMC Recordings Ltd

Catalogue number: NMC D150
Release Date: 30 March 2009