Wigglesworth, Ryan


In recent seasons Ryan Wigglesworth has appeared with orchestras and ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Britten Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Avanti!, Ensemble Modern and English Touring Opera. His repertoire stretches from the Baroque to the present day, with over forty premieres to date, including works by Birtwistle, Goehr and Carter. During the past year he made his second appearance at the BBC Proms, his debut at the Royal Opera House, appeared as pianist/director in performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17, and conducted Eugene Onegin at the Endellion Festival. Forthcoming concerts include a re-invitation to the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall, returns to the BBCSO and the Britten Sinfonia, and his debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra at the Philharmonie, Berlin.

As a composer, his recent triptych of works for the BBCSO have met with widespread critical acclaim. Sternenfall (2007); The Genesis of Secrecy (2009), commissioned by the BBC Proms and premiered by Sir Andrew Davis; and Augenlieder (2009), an orchestral song cycle written for soprano Claire Booth and premiered under the direction of the composer at the Barbican in November 2009. Augenlieder won the vocal prize at the 2010 British Composer Awards. His most recent work - A First Book of Inventions (2010) - was premiered by the composer with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in November 2010.Upcoming projects include a work for tenor Mark Padmore and the Berlin Philharmonic's Scharoun Ensemble, and a Violin Concerto for Gordan Nikolic and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, as part of his residency with the NCO and Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in Amsterdam.

Wigglesworth was educated at Oxford University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and between 2007-9 was a Lecturer at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.

Image Credit: 
Benjamin Ealovega



Founded in Manchester by the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé in 1858, The Hallé is Britain's longest established permanent professional symphony orchestra; its conductors include such distinguished figures as Hans Richter, Sir Hamilton Harty and Sir John Barbirolli.

The Hallé's family of ensembles includes the Hallé Choir - founded alongside the orchestra in 1858 - the Hallé Youth Choir, Children's Choir and Youth Orchestra; its pioneering education programme generates over 60 projects a year.

In 1996, the Hallé moved to its new home, The Bridgewater Hall, where it presents over 70 concerts a year. Making over 40 appearances annually throughout the rest of Britain, the Hallé attracts large and enthusiastic audiences both in Manchester and beyond

Sir Mark Elder became Music Director in 2000. In 2011, the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic were awarded the South Bank Sky Arts Award for their performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony; the Hallé have previously won the South Bank Show Classical Music Award for collaborations with the BBC Philharmonic, the RNCM and the CBSO.

In 2003 the Hallé launched its own CD label: its recordings of Wagner's Götterdämmerung, and Elgar's Violin Concerto with Thomas Zehetmair have both won Gramophone Awards.

Slade, Owen


Born in Birmingham in 1963, Owen Slade studied with Fred Devereux. In 1981 he began his studies at the RCM with John Jenkins and occasionally John Fletcher. In 1986 he became a member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He performed the world premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Cry of Anubis for solo tuba and orchestra with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1995. In 1997 he was appointed to the professorial staff of the RCM. He has recently been appointed tuba player with London Brass.

Image Credit: 
Royal College of Music London
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 This collection of premiere recordings of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's orchestral works spans a period of ten years, from 1994-2004.

The works move away from the composer's forceful and monolithic grandeur, of which he has become associated, and have a more reflective, otherworldly and subtle sound, exploring the world of melancholy. The Shadow of Night is a slow nocturne, exploring the world of melancholy, inspired by the composer’s life-long fascination with Dürer's engraving Melencolia I, and Night's Black Bird - commissioned by the Roche Foundation - continues with the same reflective musical imagery. The Cry of Anubis, part tuba concerto, part tone poem, grew out of Birtwistle's fascination with Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the necropolis in Egyptian mythology who played an important part in Birtwistle’s surreal opera The Second Mrs Kong (1993-94).

This is the Hallé's first recording for NMC.




"Together [Night's Black Bird and The Shadow of Night] make a perfectly balanced pair of movements; played independently they are entirely self-sufficient. Ryan Wigglesworth's performances with the Hallé are quite superb, with the intricacies of Birtwistle's instrumental writing always perfectly clear." ★★★★★ The Guardian


'The orchestral canvases Night's Black Bird and The Shadow of Night pass through corrosive moments, yet both remain dominated by an affecting melancholy, lyrical but with a bittersweet tinge. It's as though Birtwistle, mellowing as he approached 70, had belatedly discovered his inner Elgar. ... The tuba seems the perfect instrument for Birtwistle ... Owen Slade paints a wonderfully compelling picture of tenebrous rituals deep underground.' ★★★★★ The Times


'No one does deep, dark, elemental brooding quite as profoundly and convincingly as Harrison Birtwistle ... an invaluable disc' The New York Times


'In the pair of orchestral works from 2004-05 recorded here, Sir Harrison Birtwistle has used a melodic fragment from Dowland's "In Darkness Let Me Dwell" as the pretext for very un-Britten-like explorations of the darker side of human experience...Yet Birtwistle's expressionistic grandeur is the perfect complement to Britten's conflicted restraint, and no less persuasive as an act of homage to a revered precursor' Gramophone


"These three relatively recent works could be by nobody else, yet there is manifest development...The Cry of Anubis is a perfectly plausible tuba concerto, with a superb soloist in Slade. Wigglesworth admirably brings out key detail from fiendishly complex scores"  The Sunday Times


"The performances are stunning, the members of the Hallé playing with superb address and conviction, guided by the deeply sympathetic Ryan Wigglesworth ... a distinguished and valuable release that is recommended without reservation'

 'Birtwistle once described Stockhausen as an 'eagle of modernism', and that's now his own commanding position ... passages in the almost-melodic Night's Black Bird approach Bartok in their nocturnal beauty.' Wire Magazine


'This performance does ample justice to the music's sometimes aggressive but more often wistful melancholy ... A disc worth acquiring by Birtwistle sceptics and a mandatory purchase for admirers.'  International Record Review


'Birtwistle may be a musical bogeyman for some, but these are among the most powerful orchestral pieces of recent years ..... These are grim but beautiful nocturnes, full of poignant menace, and Ryan Wigglesworth and the Halle give performances of amazing concentration, accuracy and passion, aided by recorded sound of a matching depth and clarity ... Overall an essential release. '   BBC Music Magazine


'The Halle and Ryan Wigglesworth do a cracking job with each of these magnificant but demanding scores.'







This recording is made possible in part by Roche, who also commissioned the composition of Night's Black Bird by Sir Harrison Birtwistle in 2003.


The works on this disc were recorded on 17-19 July 2010 in Studio 7, BBC Manchester.

Producer             ANDREW KEENER
Recording Engineer         SIMON EADON
Assistant Sound Engineer     DAVE ROWELL
Digital Editing & Mastering     DAVID LEFEBER

Executive Producer         COLIN MATTHEWS


Cover image by ADAM BIRTWISTLE

The works on this disc are published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Boosey & Hawkes
Catalogue number:
NMC D156
Release Date:
16 May 2011