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Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music

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Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music
Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Music


This album of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's chamber music and songs, mostly of recent vintage, is issued as the innovative Great British composer approaches his 80th birthday (he was born in Accrington in July 1934). It features an exceptional line-up of performers. Heard together and separately is the trio of Austrian pianist Till Fellner, Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and English cellist Adrian Brendel. They are joined by London-born singers, soprano Amy Freston and baritone Roderick Williams.

The compositions include "Bogenstrich" written in 2006 as a short piece in tribute to Alfred Brendel and first played by his son Adrian together with Till Fellner. It was subsequently expanded into a cycle with the addition of settings of Rilke for baritone, cello and piano. The Trio for piano, violin and cello is the newest piece, premiered in 2011, a 16-minute single movement work of elaborate patterning, gestures and responses.

Settings of the concise writings of US Objectivist poet Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970), scored for soprano and cello in 1998 and 2000, begin and close the album. As Bayan Northcott writes in the booklet, "These concentrated songs demand the utmost of their performers in precision, expression and timing. As in Webern's settings, the few words and notes on the page can seem to imply whole worlds of thought and feeling". This highly-concentrated chamber-scale expressivity is felt throughout the entire album, recorded at Munich's famed Herkulessaal, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Personnel: Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Adrian Brendel (cello), Till Fellner (piano), Amy Freston (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone)


  1. Name
  2. Three Settings Of Lorine Niedecker: Always North Of Him
  3. I Was The Solitary Plover
  4. As I Shook Dust From My Father's Door
  5. Trio for violin, violoncello and piano
  6. Bogenstrich: Liebes-Lied 1
  7. Lied ohne Worte
  8. Variationen
  9. Wie eine Fuge
  10. Liebes-Lied 2
  11. Nine Settings Of Lorine Niedecker: There's a Better Shine
  12. My Friend Tree
  13. Along The River
  14. Hear Where Her Snowgrave Is
  15. How the White Gulls
  16. My Life
  17. Paul
  18. O Late Fall
  19. Sleep's Dream
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