This collection of premiere recordings of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's orchestral works spans a period of ten years, from 1994-2004.
The works move away from the composer's forceful and monolithic grandeur, of which he has become associated, and have a more reflective, otherworldly and subtle sound, exploring the world of melancholy. The Shadow of Night is a slow nocturne, exploring the world of melancholy, inspired by the composer’s life-long fascination with Dürer's engraving Melencolia I
, and Night's Black Bird
- commissioned by the Roche Foundation - continues with the same reflective musical imagery. The Cry of Anubis
, part tuba concerto, part tone poem, grew out of Birtwistle's fascination with Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the necropolis in Egyptian mythology who played an important part in Birtwistle’s surreal opera The Second Mrs Kong
(1993-94).GRAMOPHONE AWARD FINALIST 2011 - CONTEMPORARY CATEGORYReviews"No one does deep, dark, elemental brooding quite as profoundly and convincingly as Harrison Birtwistle ... an invaluable disc" The New York Times"Birtwistle may be a musical bogeyman for some, but these are among the most powerful orchestral pieces of recent years ..... These are grim but beautiful nocturnes, full of poignant menace, and Ryan Wigglesworth and the Halle give performances of amazing concentration, accuracy and passion, aided by recorded sound of a matching depth and clarity ... Overall an essential release." BBC Music Magazine"These three relatively recent works could be by nobody else, yet there is manifest development...The Cry of Anubis is a perfectly plausible tuba concerto, with a superb soloist in Slade. Wigglesworth admirably brings out key detail from fiendishly complex scores" The Sunday Times"Together [Night's Black Bird and The Shadow of Night] make a perfectly balanced pair of movements; played independently they are entirely self-sufficient. Ryan Wigglesworth's performances with the Hallé are quite superb, with the intricacies of Birtwistle's instrumental writing always perfectly clear."
***** The Guardian"The performances are stunning, the members of the Hallé playing with superb address and conviction, guided by the deeply sympathetic Ryan Wigglesworth ... a distinguished and valuable release that is recommended without reservation" ClassicalSource.com