The London Sinfonietta is one of the world’s elite contemporary music ensembles with a reputation built on the virtuosity of its performances and ambitious programming. It is committed to placing new music at the heart of contemporary culture and pushing boundaries; the ensemble regularly undertakes projects with choreographers, video artists, film-makers and collaborations with electronica artists, jazz and folk musicians.
The creation of new music has been at the core of the London Sinfonietta’s work since its foundation in 1968. It has commissioned or premiered over 200 works, ranging from Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle and Steve Reich to the emerging composers involved in its Blue Touch Paper project – including Tansy Davies, Larry Goves and Anna Meredith – an innovative initiative which gives the opportunity to take risks and develop ideas without the pressure of a public performance.
The British baritone David Wilson-Johnson was born in Northampton, studied Modern Languages at St Catharine's College, Cambridge and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he won many prizes including the Dove Prize for most distinguished student. In the early days he sang in the choirs of St Margaret's Westminster (Richard Hickox), The London Oratory, (John Hoban) the BBC Singers (John Poole) and the Monteverdi Choir (John Eliot Gardiner.) Since then, over a career already spanning forty years, he has been a guest of the major opera houses and orchestras and festivals worldwide. He has sung under the most distinguished conductors.
In 2006 he decided to retire from the operatic stage and his last performances were the title roles in Tippett's King Priam (Nationale Reisopera and BBC Proms), Albeniz's Merlin (Teatro Real Madrid), Shostakovitch's The Nose under Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (Netherlands Opera) and Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise (Edinburgh Festival).
Recent concert projects included a tour with Sir Simon Rattle and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment of Schumann's Paradies und die Peri as well as tours with Frans Bruggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century singing Die Schöpfung and Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He sang the title role in Owen Wingrave in Tapiola with Stefan Asbury, Tippett's A Child of our Time with Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius under Vladimir Ashkenazy with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
David Wilson-Johnson teaches in Amsterdam and London and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.
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GRAMOPHONE AWARD 1980 (originally issued on Decca)
An Ancora reissue of the acclaimed recording by the London Sinfonietta under David Atherton, with soloists including Phyllis Bryn-Julson, David Wilson-Johnson and John Tomlinson.
Premiered in 1968 at Aldeburgh, Punch and Judy - together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time - firmly established Birtwistle as a leading voice in British music. It elaborates the traditional puppet-play into an opera of stylised violence and ritual: the simplicity of the children's entertainment contrasts with Punch's homicidal actions.
"This brilliantly sung and played account has a gripping luridness that makes it hard to imagine how the work - a 1960s expressionist masterpiece - could be done differently, never mind better. Setting a libretto of manic intellectuality by Stephen Pruslin, the opera moves with an implacable, raucous energy that is unique." The Sunday Times
"Even if there were alternative recordings available this would be one to choose because it’s such a vivid performance. Congratulations, NMC for helping to keep new British music alive!" Music Web
Punch and Judy is published by Universal Edition (London) Ltd.
Punch and Judy was recorded in June-July 1979 at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London.
Producer: JAMES MALLINSON
Assistant Producer: ANDREW CORNALL
Recording Engineer: STANLEY GOODALL
Remastering: DAVID LEFEBER for Metier
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Design by FRANCOIS HALL
(P) 2007 ACE