Martyn Hill is one of the most distinguished international tenors of his generation, known as an opera singer, concert and oratorio soloist, and recitalist. He has sung with many of the world’s leading orchestras and his wide concert repertoire ranges from Messiah and the Evangelist in the Bach Passions, to Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Berlioz’s La Damnation of Faust and Verdi’s Requiem.
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.
The British countertenor Michael Chance studied English at King's College, Cambridge where he was also a choral scholar. He is in equal demand as an opera, concert, recital and recording artist. Concerts and recitals have taken him to the Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna and the Berlin Philharmonie, as well as tours in Japan, Europe and United States. His operatic roles include Orfeo (Gluck), Oberon, Giasone, Giustino, Ottone, Athamas, Andronico, and Apollo (Britten's Death in Venice). He has had roles written specially for him by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (The Second Mrs Kong) and Judith Weir (A night at the Chinese Opera). Operatic engagements have taken him to Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Glyndebourne, La Scala Milan and Covent Garden. His repertoire ranges from the baroque to contemporary, including many world premieres (Bennett, Goehr, Tavener, Costello) and he has recorded extensively, receiving a Grammy award for his participation in Handel's Semele.
Composers like Richard Rodney Bennett, Alexander Goehr, Tan Dun, Anthony Powers, John Tavener, and Elvis Costello have all written specifically for him, while Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Judith Weir have both created tailor-made operatic roles. He sings regularly with the viol consort Fretwork and also performs in oratorio. Michael Chance is a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music, and was awarded a CBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list.
Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen grew up near London, where his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was with the LSO that he made his debut in April 1968, conducting his First Symphony in London and in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1970 he was awarded the first of three fellowships to Tanglewood, where he studied with Gunther Schuller. During this time he completed several works which were subsequently widely performed on both sides of the Atlantic and established his early reputation. In 1975 Knussen returned permanently to the UK.
From 1983 till 1998, Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and also held posts at the Tanglewood Music Center and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1992, with Colin Matthews, he established the Contemporary Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.
After many years of close collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen became Music Director in 1998, and in 2002 was made Conductor Laureate. In 2006 he was appointed Artist in Association with the BCMG. Among his many awards are Honorary Memberships of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Philharmonic Society, an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the 2004 Association of British Orchestras Award. In 2006 he was named the second recipient of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, USA.
He has guest-conducted in many parts of the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. As a conductor he has recorded more than thirty CDs of contemporary music, several of which have won international awards - these include Robin Holloway's Concerto for Orchestra No.2, which won NMC's first Gramophone Award, and Maxwell Davies' opera Taverner.
He became a CBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930, and as the flagship orchestra of the BBC provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with at least a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given the premiere of more than 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and more recently has premiered BBC commissions by Simon Bainbridge, Jonathan Dove, Michael Nyman and Sir John Tavener among others. Its annual season of concerts as Associate Orchestra of the Barbican includes a weekend each January focusing upon a single composer from the twentieth or twenty-first century, most recently James MacMillan, Elliott Carter and Sofia Gubaidulina.
Jiří Bĕlohlávek took up the post of Chief Conductor in July 2006 and David Robertson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2005. The BBC SO works frequently with Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist-in-Association John Adams. All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any orchestra in the UK. The BBC SO is committed to innovative education work, with ongoing projects including the BBC SO Family Orchestra and Music Intro, introducing families to concert-going.
The BBC SO has appeared on 34 of NMC’s CDs, including the best-selling recording of Elgar’s Third Symphony.
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The long-awaited recording of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' iconoclastic opera based on the life of 16th-century composer John Taverner, recorded by BBC Radio 3 in 1996.
THE SUNDAY TIMES PICK OF 2009
GRAMOPHONE AWARD FINALIST 2010 - OPERA CATEGORY
"No single work in Davies's now-voluminous output has greater significance in his composing career ... his score is an extraordinary labyrinth of transformation." The Guardian
"This is seminal. I don't see how anyone with even the smallest interest in music as a living, breathing art and not as mere museum culture could fail to be seriously interested in this release ... a twentieth-century operatic masterpiece" International Record Review
"One simply can’t imagine Taverner being done better" Opera News
Recorded at Studios 1 and 2, BBC Maida Vale, London. (Sounding The Century: Taverner ’ was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 2 April 1997)
Leader, BBC SO: STEPHEN BRYANT
Producer: ANN McKAY
Recording Engineer: NEIL PEMBERTON
Assistant Sound Engineer: GRAEME PETRIE-BROWN
Digital Editing: NEIL PEMBERTON
Mastering: DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Cover Design: FRANCOIS HALL
Cover/back cover images are adapted from original woodcuts
appearing in The Dance Of Death by HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER
(P) 2009 BBC. The copyright in the recording is owned by the BBC.
BBC Logo © BBC 2007
(P) 2009 BBC
© 2009 NMC Recordings Ltd