Azalea is a passionate ensemble dedicated to the exploration and performance of new repertoire and being part of the future of contemporary music. Founded in 2007 by clarinettist/ composer Scott Lygate, our vision for Azalea is that in time it will develop to become one of the leading platforms for exposing and promoting new music, through a deep understanding of repertoire, and excellence in performance. The ensemble is made up of exceptionally committed musicians mainly from the Royal Academy of Music, London, whom all share a love of new music.
One of the UK’s foremost conductors specialising in contemporary repertoire, Christopher Austin has given more than 80 world and local premieres in the last decade, including works by John Adams, Simon Bainbridge, Luke Bedford, Tansy Davies, Michael Finnissy, Morgan Hayes, John McCabe, Stuart MacRae, Colin Matthews, Olga Neuwirth, Steve Reich, Poul Ruders, Bent Sørensen, Joby Talbot, Raymond Warren and John Woolrich. More than 40 of those premieres have been given with the Brunel Ensemble of which he is Artistic Director and with them and many other ensembles he has consistently championed the music of Malcolm Williamson and Elisabeth Lutyens and he has had a long association with the music of John McCabe.
Recent work includes debuts with the Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestra della Teatro Regio Parma, the Danubia Symphony Orchestra and at the Aldeburgh Festival; returns to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Esbjerg Ensemble, as part of Sound Around – the Øresund Biennale of Contemporary Music in Copenhagen. Other work includes the London Sinfonietta, Composers’ Ensemble, The Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé and BBC Concert Orchestras, Present Music (New York), Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, the Danish Radio Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and the English Symphony Orchestra. He has also collaborated with John Cale, Michael Nyman and the rock group The Divine Comedy. Future work includes further concerts and recordings with the Esbjerg Ensemble, a return to the Orchestre National de Lille, his debut with the Odense Symphony Orchestra and a tour of the Far East conducting Joby Talbot’s score for Carolyn Carlson’s Eau for the Centre Chorégraphique National de Roubaix Nord – Pas de Calais. He has recently begun work with Azalea, a young, new music ensemble based at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Concordia viol consort, founded by Mark Levy and Joanna Levine, plays English music of the golden age and a wide range of renaissance and baroque repertoire from Italy, Spain, Germany and France. Concordia works with guest artists on other instruments and, above all, the human voice; regular collaborators including countertenors Robin Blaze and James Bowman, tenor James Gilchrist, baritone Peter Harvey and soprano Rachel Elliott. Perhaps because of the breadth and appeal of its stimulating programming, which also includes new commissions, contemporary dance and poetry, Concordia is now one of the most active British chamber groups, appearing at the Wigmore Hall, festivals throughout the country and major venues across Europe.
The regular members of Concordia are: Mark Levy, Joanna Levine, Emilia Benjamin, Reiko Ichise, Alison McGillivray and Markus Tapio, viols; Elizabeth Kenny, lute; and Gary Cooper, organ/ harpsichord.
One of Britain’s most diverse percussionists, Joby is best known for his virtuosic, often lissom performances, daring collaborations, extensive education work, and regularly appears throughout Europe, the USA and beyond.
Joby commits much of his time to three chamber music projects - Powerplant, New Noise and ensemblebash - of which, he is either the artistic or co-artistic director. Founded in 1999 his duo New Noise, with oboist Janey Miller, has given well in excess of two hundred performances, whilst creating an entirely new repertoire and distinctive sound.
Dedicated to the development of the percussion repertoire, often in combination with electronics, Joby spends much of his time commissioning and recording new music. Recent highlights have included extensive tours with Peter Gabriel’s New Blood Orchestra and Graham Fitkin’s all star band; releases of Gabriel Prokofiev’s Import/Export on Nonclassical and Frozen River Flows on Oboe Classics. Future plans include a new duo - Uncharted - with cellist/vocalist Matthew Sharp, and a large-scale multimedia commission from Max de Wardener.
Joby regularly performs, records and collaborates with artists including Stewart Copeland, Michael Finnissy, Graham Fitkin, Peter Gabriel, John Kenny, Akram Khan, Sarah Leonard, Joanna MacGregor, Peter Maxwell Davies, Nitin Sawhney, Andy Sheppard, Keith Tippett and Nana Vasconcelos, along with many of the world’s leading chamber ensembles. He is also a member of Stephen Deazley’s Edinburgh based ensemble, Music at the Brewhouse, for which Joby was commissioned to arrange A-ha’s pop classic Take On Me, for the 2008 St Magnus Festival in Orkney.
In 2004 Joby was appointed professor of percussion and director of percussion ensembles at Junior Trinity College of Music, Greenwich.
Irish violinist Darragh Morgan has collaborated with many leading composers including Arvo Part, Michael Nyman, Sir John Tavener, Gavin Bryars, Kevin Volans and Michael Finnissy. He has made concerto appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra, KZN Philharmonic South Africa, Koln Kammer Orkest, Istanbul Symphony Orchestra and Cyprus Chamber Orchestra. International festival appearances include Wien Modern, Bang on a Can Marathon New York, Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms Chamber Music, Aldeburgh, Spitalfields and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
He is a member of the Fidelio Trio with whom has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Casa da Musica Porto and Symphony Space New York and was previously violinist with The Smith Quartet with whom he made an acclaimed recording of Philip Glass' complete string quartets. Darragh has recorded over 25 CDs for labels including NMC, Naxos, Delphian, Mode, Black Box and Nimbus. He has appeared as guest leader of Ensemble Modern, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta, Musik Fabrik and Remix Ensemble, and performed with the Bang on a Can All Stars. Darragh is professor of violin and chamber music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
British tenor Samuel Boden began his professional career as a chef, going on to study singing with John Wakefield at Trinity College of Music whence he graduated in 2006 with First Class Honours. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Ricordi Opera Prize and the Derek Butler London Prize as well as scholarships from the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Samling Foundation.
Samuel’s roles include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Gastone in La Traviata and Flute in Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream; he sang Tony in the 50th Anniversary World Tour of West Side Story for Sundance Productions, and recently appeared as Quint in the Mexican première of Britten's Turn of the Screw.
In demand as a recording artist, Samuel appears on the recent Monteverdi Vespers release with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has also recorded with Ex Cathedra.
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Christopher Austin, conductor
Samuel Boden, tenor
Joby Burgess, percussion
Simon Haram, saxophone
Darragh Morgan, violin
Huw Watkins, piano
In her recent work, Davies has found an accommodation between the worlds of the avant-garde and experimental rock, between – in the words of one critic – Xenakis and Prince. Filled with sounds of cracking, slapping, whipping and scraping, it is music that is utterly contemporary, inhabiting the same urban landscape as industrial techno and electronica.
The works on this new recording include make black white, a reconstruction of Dowland’s Flow, My Tears performed by viol consort Concordia; the ritualistic Dark Ground for percussion (Joby Burgess); Loopholes and Lynchpins, a reworking – or unravelling even – of Scarlatti's keyboard sonata (Huw Watkins) and the title work, spine, performed by Azalea and inspired by the composer's interest in trilobites.
Session photos: Jamie Campbell
‘An absorbing if disc… those who already have the earlier Davies disc should acquire forthwith’ Gramophone
'It's hard to think of another British composer whose rise through the hierarchy of British music has been so rapid, fuelled by high-profile commissions. As this disc shows, her music is at its most compelling when it creates vivid textures, drawing on rock and pop idioms to give it edge and pungency' Guardian
‘a great portrait CD compilation of works from the first decade of our musically wonderful new century, by our great composer (Tansy Davies, b. 1973) who never repeats herself’ Musical Pointers
'Tansy Davies’ music, held together in an awkward, gritty tension that allows for both emotional depth & unrestrained exuberance.' 5:4
Falling Angel and Iris were recorded live at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 5 December 2010.
Recording Producer & Engineer DAVID LEFEBER
spine, Dark Ground and Loure were recorded at Coombehurst Studio, University of Kingston on 12-14 September 2011.
Recording Producer & Digital Editing NICOLA MORO
Recording Engineer SEBASTIAN LEXER
Studio Manager TARIK ECH-CHARIF
Static / This Love and Loopholes and Lynchpins were recorded at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 26 May 2012; and make black white was recorded at The Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Surrey on 10 June 2012.
Recording Producer & Engineer DAVID LEFEBER
Mastering DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer for NMC COLIN MATTHEWS
Cover image / Graphic design FRANCOIS HALL
(P) 2012 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2012 NMC Recordings Ltd