A collection of music from the NMC catalogue selected by BCMG

This sampler, specially compiled by BCMG's Artistic Director, Stephen Newbould, celebrates the partnership between BCMG and NMC. Over the last thirteen years the Group has featured on many of our recordings and this sampler provides a snapshot of some of those releases. Stephen Newbould explains below in his notes why he selected them ...


The sampler can be downloaded for just £2.99 (mp3 & FLAC) below:

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  1. Oliver Knussen

Requiem - Songs for Sue: From Emily Dickinson

  2. Howard Skempton

Chamber Concerto: IV Teneramente

  3. Tansy Davies


  4. Benjamin Britten

Night Mail: End Sequence

  5. David Sawer


  6. Philip Cashian

... in the still hours

  7. Alexander Goehr

The Deluge: Scena III

  8. Stuart MacRae

Two Scenes from the Death of Count Ugolino: Scene 2

  9. Simon Holt


  10. Benjamin Britten

When you’re feeling like expressing your affection


BCMG Artistic Director Stephen Newbould’s liner notes…


Oliver Knskempton picussen: Requiem - Songs for Sue: From Emily Dickinson  Claire Booth / BCMG / Oliver Knussen

BCMG gave the UK premiere of Songs for Sue in Oliver Knussen’s first concert as our Artist-in-Association in 2006. This tender and beautifully crafted music poured out of Knussen, with an uncharacteristic freedom, as a tribute to his late wife who died in 2003. The wonderful soprano Claire Booth, for whom it was written, has made it her own.


Howard Skempton: Chamber Concerto: IV Teneramente  BCMG / James Weeks

Howard Skempton’s music moves me more than just about anyone else’s. It is poetic, disarmingly direct, and to my mind miraculous in finding new ways to say important things with often the tiniest of means. I programmed Howard’s Chamber Concerto in one of my first concerts as BCMG Artistic Director and the thought of listening to it, in particular this short last movement – ‘tenderly’, always fills me with a quiet excitement.


Tansy Davies: Iris  Simon Haram / BCMG / Christopher Austin

BCMG has pretty much charted every move of Tansy Davies’ composing career, performing a dozen or so works across more than a decade and commissioning a clutch of striking new pieces along the way. Although Iris was not written for the Group, it was exciting to have the chance to programme and record it with one of Tansy’s foremost collaborators, conductor Chris Austin, and with stunning saxophone soloist Simon Haram.


Benjamin Britten: Night Mail: End Sequence / When you’re feeling like expressing your affection  Simon Russell Beale / BCMG / Martyn Brabbins & Mary Carewe / Malcolm Wilson

It was such fun to make the Britten on Film CD for NMC, and to be reminded what an inventive young genius Britten was, honing his compositional techniques and providing characterful and superbly ‘functional’ music for the GPO Film Unit in the 1930s. Night Mail is the iconic piece from the period, and the little cabaret tune encouraging telephonic communication is a gem.


David Sawer: Tiroirs  BCMG / Susanna Mälkki

David Sawer spent a study period in America in the early 1990s and, like other British composers before him, brought home a fascination with minimalist techniques and their potential for generating material. Tiroirs, one of his most vibrant and beguiling scores, is a kind of Russian dolls-set of interlocking patterns and puzzles, revealed one after another with a magician’s swagger.


Philip Cashian: In the Still Hours  BCMG / Stefan Asbury

Philip Cashian was the first composer I commissioned on taking over as Artistic Director of BCMG, and I remember the excitement of that moment, at a Christmas party! I’d loved the Chamber Concerto he’d written for the Group in the 1990s, an engrossing sequence of deftly imagined musical ideas. We recorded our Cashian disc in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dance studios, and had to juggle takes of quiet music around the noise of bottles being emptied into bins from a nearby club!


Alexander Goehr: The Deluge: Scena III  Claire Booth / Hilary Summers, BCMG / Oliver Knussen

Our Artist-in-Association Oliver Knussen is a long-standing admirer and champion of Alexander Goehr’s music, programming it throughout his conducting career. For our debut at the Wigmore Hall a few years ago, Knussen programmed The Deluge, this striking early cantata – a form to which Goehr has returned again and again including, 50 years later, in To These Dark Steps, a magisterial work for tenor, children’s choir and ensemble which we premiered in 2012.


Stuart MacRae: Two Scenes from the Death of Count Ugolino: Scene II  Loré Lixenberg, BCMG / Susanna Mälkki

Stuart MacRae’s music for this setting of texts from Dante’s Inferno is wonderfully dramatic, making full use of Loré Lixenberg’s extraordinary vocal prowess, and was the composer’s second work for BCMG. It’s no surprise at all that he’s since been commissioned for a series of operatic projects, most recently the striking Ghost Patrol, toured around the UK in a vivid production by Music Theatre Wales.


Simon Holt: Lilith  BCMG / Martyn Brabbins

Lilith is one of BCMG’s very first commissions, and one of this composer’s most enduring pieces, regularly performed by ensembles around the world. Holt’s music follows no schools, and seems to re-invent itself for every piece. What links his works are what feel like universal moments of profound and direct communication, lightning strikes which get you in the gut and seem to transcend time and technique. 



Stephen Newbould by Adrian Burrows



Explore the NMC Music Map from the starting point of Howard Skempton, one of the featured composers on this BCMG sampler.