From his earliest years Colin Currie has pioneered new music for percussion. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award in 2000 for his inspirational role in contemporary music-making and received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005. Past commissions have included works by composers such as Simon Holt, Kurt Schwertsik, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jennifer Higdon and Alexander Goehr.
Currie has also had the privilege of commissioning a new work from Elliott Carter - the double concerto, Conversations, premiered with Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the 2011 Aldeburgh Festival. He later premiered a new longer version Two Controversies and a Conversation with the New York Philharmonic/Robertson in June 2012. Upcoming commissions include new works by Nico Muhly, Steve Reich, James MacMillan and Louis Andriessen.
In 2011 Currie was appointed Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank Centre, a role which allows him to develop new relationships with artists and ensembles across a variety of art forms, as well as take part in collaborative and educational projects. His dynamic percussion ensemble The Colin Currie Group received critical acclaim for its performances of Steve Reich’s Drumming; following sell-out UK performances, the group made its international debut in 2012 at Tokyo Opera City, Japan.
Currie’s critical acclaimed recordings include Rautavaara’s Incantations with the Helsinki Philharmonic (Ondine) and MacMillan’s Veni, Veni, Emmanuel with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic (Challenge Classics), conducted by the composer.
Veronika Jaruskova – Violin
Marek Zwiebel – Violin
Pavel Nikl – Viola
Peter Jarusek – Violoncello
Since winning the Paolo Borciani competition in Italy in Spring 2005, the Pavel Haas Quartet has established itself as one of the leading chamber ensembles, performing at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and recording four award-winning CDs.
Based in Prague, the Quartet studied with Milan Skampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet, and continues to enjoy a close relationship with him; the Quartet takes its name from the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899-1944), who was imprisoned at Theresienstadt in 1941 and tragically died at Auschwitz three years later.
The Quartet took part in the BBC New Generation Artists scheme from 2007–2009, and in 2010 was awarded the 2010 Special Ensemble Scholarship of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. 2010/11 saw the Quartet begin a three-year residency as Artists in Residence of Glasgow Royal Concert Halls.
The Pavel Haas Quartet has released four discs on the Supraphon label to wide critical acclaim, winning the Diapason d’Or de l’Année for their disc featuring Prokofiev’s String Quartets, a 2007 Gramophone Award for their first disc, Janácek Quartet No.2 coupled with Haas's Quartet No.2, and Gramophone's 2011 Record of the Year for Dvorák’s String Quartets No.12 & 13.
Richard Watkins is well-known as a concerto soloist and chamber music player. He was Principal Horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1985 until 1996, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founder member of London Winds.
Richard Watkins is at the forefront of promoting contemporary music for the horn. He has given premières of concertos by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Nigel Osborne, Magnus Lindberg, Dominic Muldowney, Nicola LeFanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Other premières have included James MacMillan's Quintet for Horn and Strings, Huw Watkins' Horn Trio at the Wigmore Hall in 2009 and Colin Matthews' Time Stands Still for horn, violin and piano at the 2006 Aldeburgh Festival. Watkins also premièred Britten's In Memoriam Dennis Brain, for four horns and strings, culminating in a tribute at the 2007 Proms on the 50th anniversary of Brain's death, and later recorded for NMC on Unknown Britten.
Richard Watkins is in great demand for teaching and masterclasses in Europe and the USA. He currently holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music.
Artistic Director: Amelia Freedman CBE FRAM
The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest chamber groups and, through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman and the virtuosity of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name. Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the avant-garde, having given first performances of over 255 new works to date. These include 150 commissions especially written for the Group, providing a legacy for generations to come. An impressive collection of recordings illustrates the same varied and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known neglected gems and important contemporary works.
The Nash makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe and the USA, and in South America, Australia and Japan. The group is a regular visitor to many British music festivals and can be heard on radio, television, at their renowned annual series at Wigmore Hall as well as at the Southbank Centre and the BBC Proms, and at music clubs throughout the country. The ensemble has won the Edinburgh Festival Critics' music award 'for general artistic excellence', and two Royal Philharmonic Society awards in the small ensemble category 'for the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music'.
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Colin Currie percussion
Pavel Haas Quartet
The Nash Ensemble
David Alberman, Laura Samuel, Marianne Thorsen violin
Lawrence Power viola
Paul Watkins cello
Richard Watkins horn
Richard Hosford clarinet
Gareth Hulse oboe
Ursula Leveaux bassoon
Ian Brown piano
This recording features Goehr's chamber music written between the years of 2002 and 2012, performed by the Nash Ensemble, the Pavel Haas Quartet (BBC New Generation Artists) and percussionist Colin Currie, all of whom have worked closely with the composer.
Since Brass nor Stone..., for percussion and string quartet, is inspired by Shakespeare's 65th Sonnet: its opening bars play on the literal meaning of the sonnet's first line, 'Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea', featuring gong, stone drum, log drum and rainstick.
...around Stravinsky takes Stravinsky's early Pastorale as a centrepiece, with Goehr's Prelude and Rondo performed on either side, while the motet-like structure of the Clarinet Quintet is influenced by a Josquin des Prez mass. The duo for clarinet and violin, manere, is based on a medieval plainchant, built into a series of rhapsodic variations; and the most recent piece on this recording - Largo Siciliano, for horn, violin and piano - uses the dotted rhythm of the Baroque dance, taken through a series of transformations which explore the timbres of the three instruments before returning to the original stately Siciliano.
'Since Brass, Nor Stone … is written for the unlikely combination of percussion and string quartet (Colin Currie and the Pavel Haas Quartet), but brings it off brilliantly, creating an arresting sound-world of immense rhythmic variety and surprise' Guardian
‘These performances render the sound worlds of Goehr’s sources so consummately that his own twists and turns through them come through persuasively’ Gramophone
NMC Recordings is very grateful to the Music Faculty, University of Cambridge for its generous support of this recording.
Since Brass, nor Stone… was commissioned by the BBC and the Royal Philharmonic Society for the New Generation Artists scheme, and first performed by the Pavel Haas Quartet and Colin Currie in July 2008.
The Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and …around Stravinsky were recorded at St Michael's Church, Highgate, London on 28-29 May 2012. Largo Siciliano and manere were recorded at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge on 27-28 March 2013.
Recording Producer/ Engineer DAVID LEFEBER
Since Brass, nor Stone… was recorded at Studio 2, BBC Maida Vale, London on 1 May 2010, and first broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on 22 October 2011 on Hear and Now.
Recording Engineer MICHAEL BACON
Recording Producer ELIZABETH ARNO
Digital Editing & Mastering DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer for NMC COLIN MATTHEWS
Graphic design FRANCOIS HALL
Since Brass, nor Stone… (P) BBC 2013
Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, …around Stravinsky, manere and Largo Siciliano (P) 2013 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2013 NMC Recordings Ltd