Psappha, Manchester's pre-eminent new music ensemble and one of the UK's leading contemporary music groups, was formed in 1991 by its Artistic Director Tim Williams and specialises in the performance of music by living composers and that of the 20th and 21st centuries. The group has an extensive and varied repertoire of hundreds of works and a reputation for technical assurance and interpretive flair. Attracting attention from audiences and from the music press internationally, Psappha won the Manchester Evening News Award for Opera in 2000 and has been shortlisted three times for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award. Psappha has commissioned and premiered many works by a wide range of composers including the award-winning music-theatre work, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, by its Patron, Peter Maxwell Davies, also recorded by the original performers.

Psappha has appeared throughout the UK, featuring regularly at most of the country's major music festival including the BBC Proms, special Henze, Maxwell Davies and Bernstein portrait series at London's Southbank Centre, and in residencies at the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney.

Hebrides Ensemble

Hebrides Ensemble

With programmes that are diverse, imaginative and inspiring, Hebrides Ensemble has established itself as one of the foremost chamber music collectives in the UK.

Co-founded and led by its artistic director, the cellist and conductor William Conway, the Ensemble is renowned for its fresh and intelligent approach to programming, which places contemporary music at the heart of a diverse range of repertoire.

The Ensemble’s flexibility is its strength, drawing its performers from a pool of the most outstanding musicians in the UK and beyond, ensuring the exceptional performance standards for which it has become renowned. This is an international ensemble with its roots in Scottish culture, a collective which performs regularly at venues and festivals throughout the UK and Europe, and is regularly featured in broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.

In recent years, the Ensemble has given premieres at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s King’s Place, The Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, and in 2018, made its debut appearance at the BBC Proms.

Hebrides Academy supports the next generation of performers, composers, artistic directors and cultural leaders through its mentoring programme and Hebrides Digital allows audiences around the world to be part of our performances, using live streaming, Twitter feeds and cutting edge digital technology.

In February 2019 Hebrides Ensemble will release its third disc in a series of composer-focused discs with Delphian. Sensations of Travel, chamber music by Niogel Osborne follows on from the success of The Last Island, chamber music by Peter Maxwell Davies and James MacMillan's Since it was the day of preparation..., which went straight to No 1 in the Specialist Classical Charts.

Ensemble Modern

Ensemble Modern

Founded in 1980 the Ensemble Modern (EM) is one of the world’s leading ensembles for contemporary music. Currently, the Ensemble unites 18 soloists from nine countries, all of whom contribute to the ensemble’s rich cultural background. Resident in Frankfurt am Main, the Ensemble Modern is famous for its special working and organisational structure, unlike any other in the world: there is no artistic director; all its members are responsible for jointly selecting and implementing projects, co-productions and financial matters. Its unique and distinctive programme includes musical theatre, dance and video projects, chamber music, ensemble and orchestral concerts. Ensemble Modern gives approximately 100 concerts each year at renowned festivals, such as the Salzburg Festival, Bregenzer Festspiele, Wien Modern, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Holland Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Berliner Festspiele, Ruhrtriennale, musica viva, as well as outstanding venues worldwide, such as Wigmore Hall, Cité de la Musique, Tokyo Wondersite, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie, Cologne’s Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Philharmonie Essen, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Oper Frankfurt.

The ensemble strives to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity by working closely with the composers themselves. The musicians rehearse an average of 70 new works every year, 20 of which are world premieres. [Its work is characterised by extraordinary and often long-term cooperative ventures with renowned artists, such as John Adams, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Benedict Mason, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich or Frank Zappa.

In addition to its multi-faceted concert activities, Ensemble Modern presents the results of its work through regular radio and CD recordings. Almost 30 of the more than 150 CD productions have been released by the ensemble’s own label, Ensemble Modern Media. Ensemble Modern was declared a ›Leuchtturm‹ or ›beacon‹ of contemporary culture in Germany in 2003 by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Under the roof of the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA), founded the same year, the Ensemble Modern musicians offer a wide range of educational programmes, such as the Master’s Degree Course »Contemporary Music«, master courses, composition seminars and educational projects for students.

Kalitzke, Johannes


Johannes Kalitzke, born in 1959 in Cologne, studied church music there from 1974 until 1976. After passing his school-leaving examinations, he studied piano with Aloys Kontarsky, conducting with Wolfgang von der Nahmer and composition with York Höller at the Cologne Music Academy. A stipend of the Study Foundation of the German People made it possible for him to study at IRCAM in Paris, where he was a pupil of Vinko Globokar, and simultaneously in Cologne with Hans Ulrich Humpert (electronic music).

His first engagement as a conductor was in 1984, at the Gelsenkirchen Music Theatre in the Revier, where he was principal conductor from 1988 to 1990. In 1991 he became artistic director and conductor of the Ensemble MusikFabrik, of which he was a co-founder.

 Since then he has been a regular guest conductor with ensembles (Klangforum Wien, Collegium Novum Zürich, Ensemble Modern) and with numerous symphony orchestras (including the NDR Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BR Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic). There have also been opera productions (including the State Opera Unter den Linden Berlin, the Stuttgart Opera, the Vienna Festival, the Munich Biennial and the Salzburg Festival).

 He has toured Russia, Japan and the USA. Numerous CD recordings complete his activities as an interpreter of classical and contemporary music.

Image Credit: 

Münchener Kammerorchester

Münchener Kammerorchester

Renowned for its exceptionally creative programming and the homogeneity of timbre that can only come from a long history of making music together – over sixty-five years after its foundation in the aftermath of war the MKO is blazing a trail for orchestras in Germany and beyond. In the last few years the orchestra has increased its subscription ticketholders by over fifty percent, notwithstanding the ambitious content of its programmes.


Since the beginning of the 2016/17 season, Bremen-born Clemens Schuldt is the new principle conductor. He also heads the artistic planning committee, which has, besides himself, two members nominated by the orchestra and two from the management team. Under his leadership the MKO will continue to present daring, associative programmes combining works from the past and the present. With no aesthetic preconceptions and a love of experimentation Schuldt and the orchestra will continue to place their trust in the sheer impact and emotional intensity of contemporary music. Concepts such as Eastwards, Drama, Childhood, Isolation and Reformation have set the ensemble’s course in recent seasons; in 2017/18 the focus will be on diverse facets of ›Wandern‹.


Since 1995, when Christoph Poppen took over as artistic director and established the orchestra’s unmistakable dramaturgical profile, the MKO has premiered over eighty new works by composers including Iannis Xenakis, Wolfgang Rihm, Tan Dun, Chaya Czernowin, Georg Friedrich Haas, Pascal Dusapin, Salvatore Sciarrino and Jörg Widmann. Composers such as Beat Furrer, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Thomas Larcher, Milica Djordjević, Clara Iannotta, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Mark Andre, Peter Ruzicka, Márton Illés, Mirsolav Srenka and Tigran Mansurian have fulfilled commissions from the MKO.

Image Credit: 
Sammy Hart


David Fennessy - Panopticon

David Fennessy - Panopticon
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Münchener Kammerorchester
Daniel Giglberger leader
Ensemble Modern
Johannes Kalitzke conductor
Hebrides Ensemble

David Fennessy grew up in Maynooth, Co Kildare, playing electric guitar in rock bands. He became interested in composition whilst studying for his undergraduate degree at the Dublin College of Music, and in 1998 he moved to Glasgow to study for his Masters Degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with James MacMillan. He is now a composition lecturer there himself.

He has been described as a 'composer of deep sensitivity, style and a knack for doing imaginative things with old samples' and this album displays a broad range of Fennessy's music, from purely acoustic chamber works to pieces for large ensembles involving electronics. The title track Panopticon is scored for cimbalon and string ensemble; the name refers to an 18th-century prison design in which cells were arranged around a circular central chamber from where a governor could keep an eye on prisoners at all times. Fennessy's Piano Trio features conversations from the late 1960s between John Cage and Morton Feldman, the music punctuating the extravagant gaps in the conversation. 13 Factories is performed here by Ensemble Modern under Johannes Kalitzke and includes electronics plus 4 hand-held speakers playing the sounds of old looms traditionally used in the Outer Hebrides to produce Harris Tweed. Hirta Rounds conjures up the eerie atmosphere of an abandoned island. Hirta is situated on remote St Kilda archipelago on the West Coast of Scotland whose last inhabitants were evacuated in the 1930s.


'What we like we call real while what we don’t like we call intrusion. David Fennessy shows us the impossibility of separation, the beauty of both.' The Herald

'There's so much to admire, be intrigued, excited, engaged and pleased by … repeated listening is required' Classical Ear

'ironic and clever … a polysemous delight to hear' The Wire

'a magical portrait in string-orchestral sound … refreshingly unpretentious scores' Gramophone

'hypnotic' BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

Official Charts


With special thanks to Creative Scotland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, The Fidelio Charitable Trust, and the RVW Trust for their support of this recording.

Creative Scotland   

         Royal Conservatoire     RVW



Thank you to the Trusts, Foundations and individuals who have invested in NMC’s Debut Discs series:

The John S Cohen Foundation
Nicholas and Judith Goodison’s Charitable Settlement
The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation

Stanley Picker Trust
The Steel Charitable Trust
Terry Holmes
Robert McFarland
James and Anne Rushton
Martin Staniforth
Judith Weir

The individuals who donated through NMC’s Debut Discs Appeal


Conversation between John Cage and Morton Feldman: Recording used with the kind permission of Barbara Monk Feldman and the John Cage Trust.

13 Factories for ensemble and electronics was commissioned by Ensemble Modern and Siemens Arts Programm for the project „into…“

ensemble modern


Panopticon and Piano Trio (Music for the pauses in a conversation between John Cage and Morton Feldman) were recorded at Stoller Hall, Manchester on 2-5 June 2018. Hirta Rounds was recorded at Kupferhaus Planegg, Munich on 20-21 July 2017.

DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer

Universal Edition
Catalogue number:
NMC D244
Release Date:
15 March 2019