“Engaging, Inspiring and Exciting”: Harrison Birtwistle in 2012

12 March 2012

This April’s feature on Sir Harrison Birtwistle in Gramophone Magazine explores the range of Birtwistle’s extensive output during a remarkable 50-year career that “continues to break new barriers”. Discussing early works such as Tragoedia (1965) alongside more recent triumphs, interviewer Philip Clark finds Birtwistle’s latest endeavours to be particularly “exciting” and “inspirational”. Amongst these is the significant success of his latest CD release, Night’s Blackbird, which was awarded last year’s Gramophone Contemporary Award and named by the Sunday Times as the number one contemporary album of 2011.

The Gramophone article also addresses one of Birtwistle’s latest pieces, Gigue Machine for solo piano, which was premiered by Nicolas Hodges at the Eclat Festival, Stuttgart, in February this year, and will receive Spanish, Israeli and US premieres in the next year.

Two further premieres this spring include the UK premiere of In Broken Images by the London Sinfonietta directed by David Atherton at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in May; and Fantasia Upon All The Notes, a commission for the Nash Ensemble that received its world premiere at Wigmore Hall on March 13. Writing for The Times, Geoff Brown describes Birtwistle’s Fantasia as “A sharp new piece, well worth having”. Likewise, for Andrew Clark in the Financial Times it was “the stand-out work” of the Nash ensemble’s programme: a “powerful” composition that “must be one of his most playful and digestible pieces, alternately earthy and thorny”. Echoing the sentiment of Phillip Clark’s Gramophone article, he adds that “It’s astonishing how fertile Sir Harry’s mind remains”.

Read the Gramophone feature on Harrison Birtwistle here.

Listen to an excerpt of Night’s Blackbird here.

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