Archive for News

‘Women of History’

Divine Art Records continues its series of recordings with American organist Carson Cooman, who is organist at the Memorial Church at Harvard, as well as being a teacher, writer, speaker, music critic and incredibly prolific composer. Following three recordings including organ works by German composers Andreas Willscher and Raimund Schächer, Cooman has recorded an album of music by the Italian composer Carlotta Ferrari (b.1975). Ferrari’s compositions have been performed frequently around the word and appear on many recordings including six all-Ferrari CDs. She is currently professor of music composition at the European School of Economics in Florence, Italy.

Ferrari has written many works based on historical figures, and the five works on this album are all inspired by the lives and works of famous women, lending to the album’s title, ‘Women of History’. She writes in a distinctive modal style, utilising the modal harmonic system of ‘Restarting Pitch Space’ which was actually developed by Cooman in 2005.

The recording will be issued this July on CD and many digital formats (Divine Art dda 25178). Cooman’s own compositions continue to appear, performed by Erik Simmons, in the ongoing series from Divine Art, with three more volumes scheduled for 2018.

The release is also timely as 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein which is the inspiration for the first piece.

Lady Frankenstein
Maria Restituta
Historia Gullielmae
Viva la vida
Esctasy (La transverberazione di Teresa d’Avila)

Peter Katin – Remembering a keyboard genius

We fondly remember the remarkable pianist Peter Katin this month on the two year anniversary of his death.

Peter Katin was admitted to the senior department of the Royal Academy of Music when he was twelve, four years before the official age of entry. He went on to become “among the leading British virtuosos, on a plane with Solomon and Clifford Curzon” (Audiophile Audition) and the Daily Telegraph said his playing has the ability to transcend fashion. He debuted at the Wigmore Hall in 1948 at the age of 18, returning in 1998 for a 50th anniversary performance, and had a long teaching and performance career that took him throughout the world.

His discography has reached some forty recordings, mainly for Decca for whom he was one of their top star artists. But among them are two albums he privately released as a retrospective of his career: Peter Katin Plays Chopin and Fifty Years of Music Making were limited releases, not available in stores. These two albums are “a feast for Katin admirers” (MusicWeb) and the perfect introduction into a pianist whose repertoire was extensive. We are offering each CD for half price this month! Little known to most admirers he also made three recordings on period square pianos, for our Athene label; all of his Divine Art titles are here.

Two new albums from top composers on the Métier label

Sonic Fictions

Joshua Fineberg, a composer known for his spectral music, has developed it into a new form of composition with his next album. Sonic Fiction, the term he uses to describe the musical style, is a complex concept which stresses the abstract music as creating its own ‘fiction’ story and world. It is perhaps the antithesis of impressionism and program music.

Virtuoso accordionist Pascal Contet and the renowned Arditti Quartet will be joined by the Argento Chamber Ensemble and Talea Ensemble.

‘Sonic Fictions’ will be released in April (Métier MSV 28564).

Michael Finnissy string quartets

Michael Finnissy is one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed contemporary composers. His new album of music for string quartet is his second album dedicated to string quartet works and the 12th album dedicated to his compositions on the Métier label.

The Kreutzer Quartet give all the works their first recording and are joined by Linda Merrick, Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music and one of the UK’s foremost woodwind players in the new music field, in Finnissy’s Clarinet Quintet.  Also included is Finnissy’s arrangement of the final unfinished Contrapunctus from Bach’s Art of Fugue, and Finnissy’s completion of the fugue.

The disc is likely to be released toward the end of 2018 (Metier MSV 28581).

Track List – Sonic Fictions
L’abîme  (bass clarinet, bassoon & cello)
Just as much entangled with other matter  (accordion/playback)
La Quintina  (string quartet/electronics)
Objets trouvés  (piano & chamber ensemble)

Track list – Michael Finnissy
Six Sexy Minuets Three Trios (this is also the title of the album)
Clarinet Quintet
Contrapunctus XIX and Continuation (after J.S. Bach)
Mad Men in the Sand

2018 Composer Anniversaries

We celebrate several composers this year with historic anniversaries:

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco died 50 years ago on March 17. The Italian composer was most known as a guitar composer and for the more than 200 movies he composed music for in Hollywood. But he also composed piano music and the recent release by fellow Italian Alfonso Soldano has received many rave reviews. Learn more here.

On March 25, 1918, the world lost Claude Debussy at the young age of 55. If you are a fan of the impressionist, we have twelve recordings with works written by him.

Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg turns 175 this year on June 15. Among several others, one of the noted albums which includes works by Grieg is the ‘Grieg and Finnissy Piano Quintets’. It includes the first recording of his unfinished Piano Quintet as completed by Michael Finnissy. ‘Grieg for Piano Duo’ is also a very popular album from Goldstone & Clemmow.

Charles Gounod turns 200 this year – he was born on June 17, 1818 in Paris – and it is also the 125th anniversary of his death. The 1920 (Italian) recording of ‘Faust’, his well known grand opera, was magnificently restored and re-mastered by Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio for its release on our Historic Sound label.

Leonard Bernstein turns 100 in August. His “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” was his first published piece (1942) and is now part of the standard repertoire for clarinets. Clinton Cormany and Cristo Barrios perform it on ‘Modern Music for Clarinet’.

We also remember Pyotr Tchaikovsky who died 125 years ago this coming November. Pianist Anthony Goldstone was a dedicated fan of Tchaikovsky and recorded 3 albums (one with duo partner Caroline Clemmow) for Divine Art. Discover these and other Tchaikovsky recordings here.

“The Italian Mozart” Gioachino Rossini’s 150th death anniversary is November 13. Two of his works are among Divine Art recordings.

Rawsthorne Rarities

As a sequel to the forthcoming release (February) ‘A Garland for John McCabe’, Divine Art will release later in the year another album of rare 20th/21st century British works, centred around the music of Alan Rawsthorne. This includes the premier recording of his 1939 Chamber Cantata, an unknown early String Quartet and his entertaining but rarely heard ‘Practical Cats’ (after T.S. Eliot) – a world away from the Lloyd Webber musical and heard here in the arrangement by Peter Dickinson for reciter and piano in similar fashion to Walton’s ‘Façade’. The program includes complementary works, all rarities deserving recognition, by eight other composers and is also dedicated by all concerned to the memory of the late John McCabe. The album is likely to be released around June or July on Divine Art DDA 25169 (CD and digital formats).

The performers are:
Clare Wilkinson (mezzo-soprano)
Mark Rowlinson (baritone/reciter)
John Turner (recorder)
Harvey Davies (harpsichord)
Peter Lawson (piano)
Solem String Quartet

Full program:
Alan Rawsthorne: Chamber Cantata (1939)
Alan Rawsthorne: Practical Cats (1954)
Alan Rawsthorne: String Quartet in B minor (1932-3)
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Willow Whistle (c.1939)
Halsey Stevens: Sonatina Piacevole (1955-6)
Basil Deane/Raymond Warren: The Rose Tree (2008)
Karel Janovický: The Little Linden Pipe (2016)
Donald Waxman: Serenade and Caprice (2016)
Arthur Bliss: The Buckle (1921)
Malcolm Lipkin: The Journey (2016)
David Ellis: Mount Street Blues (2016)

Divine Art launches series for top Russian composer

In 2017 Divine Art released two discs containing music by Vyacheslav Artyomov, regarded by many as the foremost composer in Russia today. His orchestral and chamber works display a totally individual voice yet informed and inspired by such as Mahler, Scriabin and Messiaen, and also imbued with a deep sense of spirituality – and a searching for a better world. Following the success and critical acclaim for these two albums, Divine Art has obtained rights from Melodiya in Russia and from the composer’s archive to release a series of seven albums of Artyomov’s music, which will be released over the next 12 months (in CD and digital formats); the recordings were made at various times over the last 20 years and are to be remastered for the new issue – yet hardly any of them were available previously in the West.

Artyomov’s works have been nominated for many prizes in Russia and the USA; several books have been written about him and his music has been commissioned and premiered by some of the biggest names in Russian music including the composer’s good friend Mstislav Rostropovich, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mikhail Pletnev and many more.

The existing albums (catalog numbers dda 25143 and dda 25144) each include one Symphony from Artyomov’s epic cycle ‘Symphony of the Way’ – and the other two are in the forthcoming releases.

Series details

I               Divine Art DDA 25164 to be released on 20 April 2018
Sola Fide (Only by Faith) – Suites 3 and 4 from the Ballet
Solo singers / Kaunas State Choir / Oleg Yanchenko (organ) / Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko
NB: This ballet uses music extracted from the composer’s Requiem (see below) hence the vocal and choral parts.
Tempo Costante – Concerto for orchestra
Moscow Chamber Orchestra ‘Musica Viva’ conducted by Murad Annamamedov

II             Divine Art DDA 25171 to be released on 15 June 2018
Symphony – The Way to Olympus (part of the Symphony of the Way cycle)
USSR State Symphony Orchestra conducted by T. Minbayev
Gurian Hymn
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dmitri Kitaenko
Preludes to Sonnets
Anton Bagatov (piano)
Concert of the 13
Mykola Suk (piano), USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Virko Baley

Following titles –  provisional programs – not all artist details to hand yet
III            Divine Art DDA 25172
A Symphony of Elegies

IV            Divine Art DDA 25173
Tristia I
In Memoriam

V             Divine Art DDA 25174
A Sonata of Meditations
A Garland of Recitations

VI            Divine Art DDA 25175
Star Wind
Moonlight Dreams
Romantic Capriccio

VII          Divine Art DDA 25176

More organ albums from Divine Art

Divine Art has announced the latest in the new series of organ recordings made by American organist Carson Cooman, following his two recent albums of music by Andreas Willscher. The new disc features more works by Willscher and also major pieces by Raimund Schächer (b. 1960).  Schächer is an expert on early, Renaissance and baroque music which is reflected in his often very traditional style, seen here most obviously in his Sonata Antiqua. The recording features the breathtaking sounds of the Sonnenorgel (Sun Organ) at Pfarrkirche, Görlitz, Germany which Divine Art CEO Stephen Sutton considers one of the most beautifully voiced organs he has heard in fifty years.

As an active concert organist, Cooman specializes in the performance of contemporary music. Over 130 new works have been composed for him by composers from around the world, and his organ performances can be heard on a number of CD recordings. Cooman is also a writer on musical subjects, producing articles and reviews frequently for a number of international publications. He is organist of the Memorial Church at Harvard University.

Cooman is also well known as a prolific composer and Divine Art has three more albums of his organ music, performed by Erik Simmons, in the can for release later this year; these will be volumes 8-10 of the Cooman Organ Music series. The seventh in the series, ‘Owl Night’, will be officially released in March of this year.

The Schächer/Willscher organ works album is scheduled for release on May 18, 2018 on Divine Art (DDA 25168).

12 Harpsichord Suites of Johann Froberger

Veteran English harpsichordist Gilbert Rowland returns to the studio in July 2018 to record 12 of the Harpsichord Suites of Johann Froberger for Athene Records, the early-music imprint of Divine Art. This follows Rowland’s survey on 6 CDs of the suites by Handel and his recent 3-CD box of the suites by Johann Mattheson which has become one of the label’s best sellers of 2017 and received international critical praise.

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667) was a highly accomplished composer of the middle baroque and is usually credited with inventing the ‘baroque suite’ used with variations by Bach, Handel and countless other composers; certainly it was his idea to set the ‘backbone’ of the Suite as the four dance movements of allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue. He was extremely prolific and Stephen Sutton, CEO at Divine Art, is hopeful that this will be the first of a series eventually containing all of Froberger’s harpsichord music – this may be a challenge as considerable numbers of works have been recently discovered so the ‘complete’ works may not be established for some time! This first volume will be released late 2018/early 2019 but the exact date has not been yet finalized.

New Music from Basil Athanasiadis

‘Soft Light’, the new album from Basil Athanasiadis, will be a fascinating mix of Greek and Japanese influences. Athanasiadis’ works are characterized by a strong visual identity, brought to life on this album by the ensemble Shonorities. Our CEO, Stephen Sutton, is “delighted to have signed a composer with such a unique and exotic blend of styles”.

Athanasiadis studied at the National Conservatoire of Athens and in the UK at Trinity College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, and Canterbury Christ Church University. He explored Japanese and Western instruments as a Special Foreign Researcher at the Tokyo University of the Arts and has previously released three CDs with Sargasso Records. His scores are published by United Music Publishing Ltd. and Oxford University Press.

Shonorities, founded by Athanasiadis, is a diverse group of performers and composers committed to promoting a range of repertoire that encompasses a wide spectrum of musical styles including old, contemporary and traditional pieces. By blending a variety of musical cultures, Shonorities aims to show the potential of the cross cultural collaboration in the contemporary music creation. The collaboration with choreographers and dancers, lighting designers and the inclusion of electronics enhance the performance experience. The unity of the concerts is achieved by introducing a theme that underscores the repertoire.

Shonorities personnel on this recording: Shie Shoji (voice); Naomi Sato (sh­ō and soprano saxophone); Stelios Chatsiiosifidis (violin); Lin Lin (flute); Jasmina Samssuli (piano)

To be released in mid 2018 on MSV 28584.

Métier to release a new ‘single’

Métier Records will add to its fast-growing catalog of contemporary music a ‘single’ which will include two works with a total playing time of 24 minutes and which will be offered at budget price. The two works are both for electronics: ‘Aeolus’ is by Irish composer Gráinne Mulvey, and ‘Untouch’ is from Christopher Fox. Both composers produce works in a wide variety of styles and instrumentation which are ‘cutting-edge’ yet musically entertaining and well constructed. Each composer ‘manages’ the electronics for their piece on this mini-album.

To be released in mid 2018, catalog number MDS 29006.

Coull Quartet celebrates 40 years at Warwick

The Coull Quartet celebrates its 40th anniversary as Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Warwick, UK this year. They perform a series of concerts on campus, collaborate with many academic departments, support scholarships given to string players and much more.

We’re excited to work with them on a 2018 release: They will perform on Christopher Redgate’s second volume of ‘New Music for a New Oboe’, coming out in March. The album will include pieces specially commissioned by Sam Hayden, Edward Cowie, Paul Archbold, Dorothy Ker and Christopher Fox.

Season’s Greetings

To all our customers, our best wishes for the Holidays whichever religion you follow (if any..) and thanks for your support of the best of recorded music. If we have in any small way infused your life with the Spirit of Music then our travail is not in vain. As our original motto (due for a re-launch?) went , “The Divine Art of Musick toucheth the verry Soule”
Stephen Sutton, CEO

Teresa Cahill honored with two awards

Congratulations to Teresa Cahill who was honored with two achievement awards this year: The Elgar Medal (previous winners include Ashkenazy and Barenboim), and the Sir Charles Santley Memorial Award from the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

New recording of music by Naji Hakim

Among a full schedule for 2018 is a new recording of works by Naji Hakim centering on organ and harpsichord. The main soloist is Simon Leach, joined for two works by violinists Benedict Holland, and for one each by recorder player John Turner and tenor Ranald McCusker, the latter singing a plainsong introduction to the program.

Simon Leach’s connection with the composer goes back to 1992, when Leach was awarded a bursary, while a student at the RNCM, to study with Hakim in Paris. He has developed his career to a high level and has performed with the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia, and other top orchestras; he is a regular performer on the BBC Daily Service and since 2001 has been organist at Holy Name Church in Manchester which has a long and celebrated musical tradition.

In addition to being the recipient of many international awards throughout his career, including one from Pope Benediktus XVI, Hakim has held extended positions as organist at both the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Paris and at the l’église de la Trinité, in succession to Olivier Messiaen. He is now professor of musical analysis at the Conservatoire National de Région de Boulogne-Billancourt, and visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

The new album, working title ‘Embrace of Fire’, is to be recorded on March 5-7, 2018 at Holy Name Church, Manchester, England with engineer/producer Richard Scott and will be released in CD and digital formats later in 2018 (MSV 28583).

Music for two pianos…

… and percussion.  Bartok’s Concerto and Camilleri’s  Sonata,  for this combination, are joined by Stravinsky’s own 2-piano transcription of The Rite of Spring in another fine reissue from the Dunelm Records catalog. Murray McLachlan and Kathryn Page (pianos), Heather Corbett and Stephen Burke (percussion). To be issued at mid price (CD and digital) in April 2018.

Sir John Manduell dies at 89

The veteran English composer Sir John Manduell has died at the age of 89. He passed away suddenly at 9 am on October 25 probably from an aortic embolism.

Sir John was born in Johannesburg but of English parents. He had a long career at the BBC, moving swiftly up the ranks and was responsible for setting up the first all-day music radio service (now known as Radio 3). At 40, he left to enter academic life, becoming the founding Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester in 1971. He composed relatively little, but most of his works are substantial and important contributions. His Double Concerto in its revised version for oboe and cor anglais, and his Flutes Concerto, were both recorded by the Manchester Sinfonia and issued along with Double Concertos by Gordon Crosse on the Métier Records album “Mixed Doubles” (MSV 77201).

Divine Art founder Stephen Sutton says “I was honoured to meet Sir John (already almost totally paralysed) at a CD launch about four years ago in Manchester. His legacy, though small in quantity, was very high in quality of inspiration and craftsmanship. He will be missed especially by the Manchester musical circle and the myriads of students and teachers who worked under his oversight at the RNCM.”

Coming soon: a tribute album for John McCabe

In every sense, John McCabe was a leading light in both British and international musical life; he was in love with music from a very early age, and all through his life he remained fascinated by discovering new or neglected composers; as a highly skilled pianist he had a wide repertoire ranging from Haydn to the contemporary work of such composers as Hoddinott, Mathias, Michael Tippett and many others whose work he helped to introduce. As a composer his work on all levels was outstanding and his death in 2015 robbed us of a fine craftsman.

Several composers of high esteem wrote pieces in McCabe’s honour in 2016, and these have been collected along with some works written for his 70th birthday in 2009; many of them have had successful concert performances and now are to be issued in an album entitled ‘A Garland for John McCabe’. The production has been organised by recorder player John Turner with active and esteemed participation by the composer’s widow, Monica McCabe. The works are written for combinations of clarinet, viola and recorder with piano and are performed by Linda Merrick (clarinet), Alistair Vennart (viola), John Turner (recorder) and Peter Lawson (piano). Each soloist is regarded as a foremost exponent of their instrument and have appeared on many current Divine Art/Métier recordings as well as work with other labels.

The album of McCabe’s piano music, ‘Tenebrae’, by Tamami Honma has been one of Métier’s most enduringly popular titles (MSVCD 92071). Shopshire Star called McCabe “one of our foremost contemporary composers” and described the recording as “an astounding work of breathtaking beauty”.

‘A Garland for John McCabe’ will be released in March 2018 on Divine Art DDA 25166.

Full track list (alphabetical order of composer surnames):
James Francis Brown: Evening Changes
Gary Carpenter: Edradour
Peter Dickinson: A Rag for McCabe
Martin Ellerby: Nocturnes and Dawn
Anthony Gilbert: The Flame has Ceased
Edward Gregson: John’s Farewell
Christopher Gunning: Danse des Fourmis
Emily Howard: Outback
John Joubert: Exequy
Rob Keeley: Elegy for John McCabe
Malcolm Lipkin: In Memoriam John McCabe
William Marshall: Little Passacaglia
David Matthews: Chaconne
Elis Pehkonen: Lament for the Turtle-Dove
Robert Saxton: A Little Prelude for John McCabe
Gerard Schurmann: Memento
Howard Skempton: Highland Song
Robin Walker: And Will You Walk Beside Me Down the Lane?
Raymond Warren: In Nomine

Nan Schwartz to release orchestral album on Divine Art

Grammy winner, 5-time Grammy nominee and seven-time Emmy nominee Nan Schwartz, is unquestionably America’s most renowned woman composer except for one notable exception – her own symphonic works for the concert stage had, until now, previously never been recorded.  This remarkable omission from the classical music-recording catalogue has finally been rectified with this extraordinary album, conducted by the eminent New York-based Australian conductor, Kevin Purcell.

The album will be released in the spring in both CD and digital formats (dda 25165). Kevin Purcell conducts The Synchron Stage Orchestra, Wien and the Bratislava Studio Symphony Orchestra.

Friends for many years, it was only by chance that when Nan sent Kevin her symphonic tone-poem for Trumpet and Orchestra (Angels Among Us) to review did the Australian maestro casually enquire, “Nan, what else have you composed for the concert stage that no-one knows about?”  And the answer to that question gave birth to 2018’s most highly anticipated classical album. Taking two years to produce, across three continents, the 83-piece orchestra Vienna sessions are augmented by the crème-de-la-crème of New York’s finest Jazz musicians combining to create the orchestral masterpieces Aspirations and Perspectives.

The four works by Nan Schwartz on this album are ingeniously coupled with the premiere recording of Australian composer Brenton Broadstock’s astoundingly evocative Concerto For Orchestra: an homage to the iconic Miles Davis album ‘Kind of Blue’.

Artist and album receive international awards

Pianist Burkard Schliessmann has been distinguished with the award of three Silver Medals at the 2017 Global Music Awards. Known as “music’s golden seal of approval”, the Global Music Awards honored Schliessmann as an instrumentalist and for ‘Outstanding Achievements as a Classical Artist’, as well as for his Divine Art album ‘Chronological Chopin’.

New Skempton album for 2018

Howard Skempton is one of Britain’s most individual and skilful composers. A new album of his chamber works has been recorded for release early next year by Métier (our new-music branch) by the British ensemble Sirinu.

The new album is titled ‘The Man, Hurdy-Gurdy and Me’ which gives a hint that Skempton’s works here may include non-traditional instruments and indeed his flair for fascinating and unusual instrumental pairings is a feature of the program – not often does a major composer’s chamber music involve the Hurdy-Gurdy, medieval instruments, or the accordion or even the Indonesian gamelan trio of saron, peking and gendèr.

‘The Man, Hurdy-Gurdy and Me’ (currently at editing and mastering stage) will be scheduled for release in early Spring 2018 on Métier MSV 28580

We wish Howard a very happy birthday, as he enters his 71st year!