NMC has released an all-Mark Simpson disc, Night Music, surveying his recent chamber and instrumental works with an outstanding list of performers including the composer himself as clarinettist.
Music by the young British composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson is collected in an acclaimed recent release by NMC (D225). This recording of chamber music pieces by the 27-year-old composer features works spanning ten years. All are performed by the musicians and ensembles for whom they were originally written, including oboist Nicholas Daniel, Ensemble 10/10 under Clark Rundell, cellists Leonard Elschenbroich and Guy Johnston, pianist Richard Uttley and the Mercury Quartet.
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Mark Simpson's works are most often inspired by dark tones and atmospheres of loss, dreams, hauntings, intimacy and passion and, as with Night Music and Echoes and Embers, often embrace ambiguities of emotion and attitude with extremes of quietude and agitation, of fragility and power. His pieces are also his own musical response to poetry (Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, Ted Hughes’ ‘Tales from Ovid’ for Windflower) or the mysteries and resonances of place (Barkham Fantasy whose genesis harks back to an eerie farmhouse on Dartmoor, and Nur Musik written during a stay in Berlin). Un Regalo was written to celebrate the 300th birthday of Guy Johnston's cello and Mark wrote Lov(escape) for his semi-final recital for the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
"Mark Simpson demonstrates in his music several typically British characteristics: high craftsmanship; reliance on literary sources; precise evocations of places or moods. Yet what hits home immediately in this magnificent collection is the music's individuality and strength. The sounds keep flying in mutating swirls, the strident morphing into the lyrical or vice versa... Above all, there's Simpson's blazing confidence, his full understanding of instrumental capabilities, and love of pushing them to the edge."
BBC Music Magazine
"Simpson has an awful lot of music inside him and plenteous discipline when it comes to writing it down... His use of space and silence is notable, as are his gift for melody, his ability to ratchet up drama and his refreshing lack of inhibition in reaching for orthodoxies of style or tonality ...this is high quality music. And in case you needed reminding, Simpson can play that clarinet too."
Night Music, which gives the album its name, is performed by cellist Leonard Elschenbroich who is dedicatee of Simpson's new cello concerto NOX, scheduled for premiere in May 2017 as part of the composer's residency with the BBC Philharmonic. Recent Simpson performances have included his chamber opera Pleasure, premiered in Leeds in April and toured to Liverpool, Aldeburgh and London, his orchestral concert opener Israfel at the BBC Proms, and a new chamber trio given its first performances at the Edinburgh and Salzburg Festivals.
> Further information on Work: Night Music
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