Harrison Birtwistle: Gramophone Award for Night's Black Bird on NMC
NMC’s acclaimed disc of three recent Harrison Birtwistle orchestral works has won the 2011 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Best Contemporary Recording.
The Gramophone award-winning disc of orchestral works by Harrison Birtwistle features The Hallé conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth in the Dowland-inspired diptych of The Shadow of Night and Night’s Black Bird, with Owen Slade as tuba soloist in The Cry of Anubis. The recording was supported by Roche and Arts Council England (NMCD156).
BBC Music Magazine summed up the NMC disc as “an essential release… these are among the most powerful orchestral pieces of recent years”, while the New York Times observed how “the music is a gripping procession of half-lighted swirls, plaintive melodic gestures and stark, violent outbursts”. The Shadow of Night in particular has emerged as one of Birtwistle’s most frequently programmed orchestral works, with 30 performances over the decade since its premiere, conducted by maestros including Christoph von Dohnányi, Franz Welser-Möst, Ingo Metzmacher and Jonathan Nott.
2011 is proving to be a vintage year for Birtwistle, including first performances of his new Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in Boston, New York and London and the UK premiere of his dramatic cantata Angel Fighter, retelling Jacob’s wrestling with the divine. His new work for the London Sinfonietta, In Broken Images, unveiled at the MITO festival in Italy in September, is due to receive its UK premiere at the Southbank Centre next May, conducted by David Atherton.