Watts, Andrew


Andrew Watts was born in Middlesex and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Geoffrey Mitchell. He has appeared with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Operas, the Aldeburgh and Almeida Festivals; foreign engagements include Staatsoper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Teatro La Fenice. Reknowned for his performances in both contemporary and early music, his roles include the title role in Handel's Orlando, Nero in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, Oberon in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Prince Go-Go in Ligeti's Le grand macabre, and the Snake Priestess in Birtwistle's The Minotaur.

His concert engagements include appearances with BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles and Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestras as well as the Nieuw Ensemble. He has featured on recordings  of Boyce’s Ode for St Cecilia's Day, and was heard in Sally Potter’s film Orlando. He broadcasts regularly and television appearances include a cameo as Kathleen Ferrier in William and Mary.

Lloyd Roberts, Jeffrey

Lloyd Roberts
Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts was born in Wales and read music at Lancaster University before studying at the Royal Northern College of Music with Barbara Robotham, where he received awards from the Wolfson Foundation, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Peter Moores Foundation. Concerts have included Martinu’s Epic of Gilgamesh with the CBSO and Sir Simon Rattle, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins and the Mahagonny Songspiel at the BBC Proms, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings in Denmark, Molqui The Death of Klinghoffer and Bartok Cantata Profana with BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dream of Gerontius with the BBC Philharmonic and Vassily Sinaisky, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra with Matthias Bamert, Beethoven Symphony No 9 with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Barcelona and Birtwistle’s Angel Fighter with MusikFabrik in Leipzig. He has worked regularly with Opera North, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Birmingham Opera Company, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, Grange Park Opera and Opera Holland Park. He made his debut in Salzburg in 2010 singing Erik in Die fliegende Höllander at the Salzburg Landestheater. He has sung at the Cheltenham Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and the BBC Proms, most recently with the UK premiere of Birtwistle Angel Fighter in 2011, a commercial recording of which has recently been released.

BBC Singers

BBC Singers
The BBC Singers is Britain’s only full-time professional chamber choir and a group with an international reputation. Established in 1924, the versatility of this virtuoso 24-voice ensemble is second-to-none, and this flexibility makes the Singers both an important resource in the broadcast music-making of the BBC and a significant presence in British musical life. The BBC Singers’ breadth of repertoire is unsurpassed by any other choral group, singing everything from Renaissance music to the latest contemporary scores, and their unrivalled expertise with the latter has brought about creative relationships with some of the most important composers and conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries. At home on the concert platform as much as in the recording studio, the BBC Singers also regularly work with the BBC’s own orchestras, a wide range of period instrument and contemporary music ensembles, and with a host of internationally-renowned conductors. The group’s rapidly expanding education programme now embraces regular outreach work with school children, youth choirs, the amateur choral community, and young professional composers, singers and conductors. The BBC Singers have a unique place on the British concert scene: a world-class choral ensemble committed to sharing their enthusiasm and creative expertise with audiences and performers, amateurs and professionals, young and old, across the nation and throughout the whole spectrum of the choral community.
Image Credit: 
John Wood

London Sinfonietta

London Sinfonietta

The London Sinfonietta's mission is to place the best contemporary classical music at the heart of today's culture; engaging and challenging the public through inspiring performances of the highest standard, and taking risks to develop new work and talent.

The ensemble is Resident Orchestra at Southbank Centre with headquarters at Kings Place, and continues to take the best contemporary music to venues and festivals across the UK and worldwide with a busy touring schedule. Since its inaugural concert in 1968 - giving the world premiere of Sir John Tavener's The Whale - the London Sinfonietta's commitment to making new music has seen it commission over 300 works, and premiere many hundreds more.
The core of the London Sinfonietta is 18 Principal Players, representing some of the best solo and ensemble musicians in the world. The ensemble has just launched its Emerging Artists Programme, which will give professional musicians at the start of promising and brilliant careers the opportunity to work alongside those Principal Players on stage across the season.

The London Sinfonietta's recordings present a catalogue of 20th-century classics, on numerous prestigious labels as well as the ensemble's own London Sinfonietta Label. Most recently, a performance of Philip Cashian's Piano Concerto was released on NMC.

Atherton, David


In 1967 Atherton was co-founder of the London Sinfonietta[4] and, as its Music Director, a position he held until 1973, gave the first performance of many important contemporary works. Also in 1967 he was invited to join the music staff of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, by Sir Georg Solti. In 1968 he became the youngest conductor ever to appear there, conducting Il Trovatore. He spent twelve years as Resident Conductor giving over 150 performances. Also in 1968 he was the youngest conductor in the history of the BBC Proms Concerts and subsequently appeared in thirty contiguous seasons.[5][6]

In 1976 he conducted for the first time at La Scala in Milan, Italy. In 1978 he conducted at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, California in the United States. Then in 1980 he was appointed Music Director of the San Diego Symphony, a post he held until 1987 and Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. In 1989 he founded the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego and was appointed Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held until 2000. In recognition of his services to the music of Hong Kong, he was awarded the OBE and the title of Conductor Laureate of the orchestra.

He has also been the Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales[5] and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has also devised and conducted festivals in London featuring the complete works of Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern and Edgard Varèse with the London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera House.
He has also appeared with the English National Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as well as the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which he returns to regularly. He also returns to California each summer to direct the Mainly Mozart Festival.
He has opened the Prague Spring International Music Festival and the Berliner Festspiele with the Berlin Philharmonic, and travels widely, in particular to the United States where he regularly visits many of the leading North American orchestras.

Image Credit: 
Ken Jacques


Angel Fighter
  • Total duration: 53'36
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    123.1 MB
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    281.70 MB
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    550.80 MB
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  • Album Booklet PDF | FREE



Andrew Watts countertenor

Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts tenor

BBC Singers

London Sinfonietta / David Atherton


Described by The Guardian as 'hauntingly powerful', Birtwistle's cantata Angel Fighter vividly explores the Biblical story of the struggle between man and divine being from the Book of Genesis. Predictably, for a composer with a long-standing fascination in myth, drama and ritual, it's the physical fight between Jacob and the Angel more than religious significance, that interests Birtwistle: the tension, twists of pulse, sharp accents and jeering chants from the chorus make it feel more like a wrestling match than a life-or-death struggle. Quartertones and string harmonics enhance the otherworldly descent of the Angel from Heaven and librettist Stephen Plaice makes clever use of Enochian, an angelic language 'discovered' by the 16th century alchemist and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee.

In Broken Images, inspired by Gabrieli's multi-choir canzonas, splits the ensemble into four groups (woodwind, brass, strings and percussion) and takes its title from the Robert Graves poem. Birtwistle continues to draw influence from the past in Virelai (Sus une fontayne), a rhythmically intricate realisation of a piece by Johannes Ciconia, who flourished in the late Middle Ages, around the time that Chaucer was writing his Canterbury Tales.




'Angel Fighter is a spare and strikingly original piece of dramatic storytelling. It presents the Old Testament tale of Jacob wrestling an angel as a ritualised game between the tenor Jacob (Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts) and the counter-tenor Angel (Andrew Watts) and climaxes in one of the great dramatic moments in Birtwistle’s concert music'  The Guardian ****

'Birtwistle unleashes all his powers ... a thrilling dramatisation of the Bible story' BBC Music Magazine

'[Angel Fighter] would evoke Bach cantatas if Birtwistle’s gestic pungency did not sweep all before ... In Broken Images  — an intriguing meditation on the eponymous Graves poem — might evoke Gabrieli but for the same proviso. The brief Virelai (Sus une fontayne) brilliantly transforms a late-medieval original' Sunday Times

'Angel Fighter - dramatic and compelling as the title seems to suggest' BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'

'Virelai - a brilliant reimagining of a 3-part medieval piece by flemish composer Johannes Ciconia' BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'

"Although the story remains an enigma, this terse, taut work is superbly dramatic” - Fanfare

‘There is nothing in these performances of advocacy, push, or any expression of the need to apologise for or “warp” the music in anything other than itself.' - Mark Sealey, Classical Net

“Birtwistle, a composer whose music is as vivid and compelling as that of any today. Excellent performances here from David Atherton and the London Sinfionetta” – Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine

“Birtwistle’s music today is just as lacking in complacency as it was in 1968” - Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine

“This CD is a pungent and persuasive statement about what properly serious music can achieve today” - Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine

“Birtwistle unleashes all his powers… a thrilling dramatization of the Bible story” – Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine

“The London Sinfionetta, under David Atherton, lend it both soul and a zinging edge” – Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine




This project was made possible by the generous support of Robert McFarland, a London Sinfonietta Entrepreneur.


London Sinfonietta


Angel Fighter was recorded live for BBC Radio 3 at Cadogan Hall, London on 20 August 2011.
MICHAEL EMERY Recording Producer
MARVIN WARE Recording Engineer

In Broken Images was recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 24 May 2012; Virelai (Sus une fontayne) was recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 5 December 2014. Both were recorded live by London Sinfonietta/Sound Intermedia.

Recording and Production by IAN DEARDEN and DANIEL HALFORD for Sound Intermedia

COLIN MATTHEWS Executive Producer for NMC / FRANCOIS HALL Cover image and Graphic design

STEPHEN PLAICE libretto for Angel Fighter  © 2009


Angel Fighter (P) BBC 2011
In Broken Images (P) 2012 Sinfonietta Productions Ltd
Virelai (Sus une fontayne) (P) 2014 Sinfonietta Productions Ltd
© 2015 NMC Recordings Ltd

Boosey & Hawkes
Catalogue number:
NMC D211
Release Date:
18 May 2015