BCMG was formed in 1987 from within the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and is established as one of Europe’s leading ensembles.   Sir Simon Rattle is the Group’s Founding Patron and has conducted BCMG in the UK, on tour in Europe and America, and on several EMI recordings. The Group has strong relationships with its two Artists-in-Association Oliver Knussen and John Woolrich, and also with Thomas Adès who conducts the Group during 2006/07 in Birmingham, London, Cologne and Paris, and with whom BCMG is invited to Carnegie Hall, New York in 2008. BCMG was awarded The Arts Ball 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award and has also won prestigious Prudential, Royal Philharmonic Society, Gramophone and PRS Millennial awards. In May 2005, BCMG was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Audience Development for its popular Rural Tours programme.
The core of BCMG's work is the performance of new music, and the Group has premiered over 100 new works by leading UK and overseas composers. Most have been commissioned with the help of a large number of individuals through BCMG’s ground-breaking Sound Investmentscheme. The Group regularly tours nationally and internationally. Recent UK engagements have included appearances at the Aldeburgh and Cheltenham Festivals, and at the BBC Proms with Birmingham Opera Company for Benjamin Britten’s CurlewRiver.  In April 2006, the Group toured the UK with New York-based jazz trumpeter, Dave Douglas, performing Blue Latitudes, a piece commissioned through BCMG’s Sound Investment scheme. Previous projects have included a European tour with Sir Simon Rattle in 2000, a tour of India in 2002 with Judith Weir and Indian storyteller Vayu Naidu and visits to the Berlin, Radio France Présences and Vienna’s Wien Modern Festivals, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal.   
BCMG is committed to engaging the widest possible range of people with its work, and runs extensive learning and audience-building programmes in pursuit of this aim. Projects with young people in and out of school and with adults in a range of community settings are complemented by free performance projects such as the Group’s popular ‘Rural Tours’, Late-Night performances and Meet-the-Composer days. BCMG broadcasts often on BBC Radio, has made TV programmes for BBC and Independent Television, and numerous CD recordings.  The relationship with NMC is particularly strong, with the recent launch of a new CD of Britten’s film music and several more discs planned.

Brabbins, Martyn

Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007, he was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, a position which started in September 2009. After studying composition in London and then conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, his career was launched when he won first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors' Competition. Since then Brabbins has regularly conducted all the major UK orchestras and is much sought-after in Europe, notably in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia.   
Brabbins’ symphonic engagements have included appearances at London's  South Bank in subscription with the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras, his Tokyo debut, with the Tokyo Metropolitan (where he returns in 2011); and visits to the Netherlands Radio Chamber in the prestigious Matinee series, the Residentie Orkest, Salzburg Mozarteumorchester and Lahti Symphony.  He is a regular guest with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Halle and BBC Philharmonic orchestras, and appears several times each season with the BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras in subscription and at the BBC Proms.
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Martyn Brabbins conductor


Drama, or a fascination with theatrical possibilities, is present in many of David Sawer’s works, and he has written a number of scores for the theatre and for radio. Operas include From Morning to Midnight which received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Skin Deep with librettist Armando Iannucci, and The Skating Rink, which premiered at Garsington Opera to critical acclaim.

All three of the pieces on this album (David’s third for NMC) have a connection with dance: the Rumpelstiltskin Suite (2011) originated in Sawer’s 2009, 70-minute ballet Rumpelstiltskin; the early ensemble piece Cat’s-Eye (1986) was choreographed by Richard Alston for Rambert in 1992; and premiered in concert in 2016, April\March was commissioned for the Royal Ballet.

David Sawer describes Rumpelstiltskin as “a grotesque fable for our times”. He leaves it to us to ponder the modern-day resonances of this dark tale of greed, deceit, cruelty and abuse.

Cats-Eye is inspired by the fantascope projector, with its spectacular optical tricks that shocked audiences in the 1800s. A simple device called “l’oeil-de-chat”, caused these images to appear and disappear: as the eye closed, the source of light was extinguished. In this piece Sawer brings in instruments together – often in pairs – then they are pulled apart or pitted against others. Past and present is explored in April\March – the back to front calendar of the title pointing to a reversal in time.

This album also includes the bonus track Between, a gentle, beautifully ethereal work which captures a kind of otherworldly essence of the harp completely without sentimentalism. Available for FREE with all purchases of the Rumpelstiltskin album. Also available separately here.



'These three dance-related scores embody a deep compositional deftness' Sunday Times

''unusual and creative... the music is striking' The Art Music Lounge

'this commercial release has long been awaited... Martyn Brabbins and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group perform it with the precision and idiomatic panache it deserves.' Classical Iconoclast

'This performance by BCMG under Martyn Brabbins - recorded with pin-sharp clarity in Birmingham's CBSO Centre - could hardly be more vivid... This disc is a splendid addition to his recorded repertory. Gramophone

'He develops such a pictorial tone language... this disc is truly attractive.' Pizzicato

'amusing and coherently structured' American Record Guide

Official Chart


NMC is very grateful for to Andrew Tusa, Bonnie Horner, Nicholas Berwin, Martin, Stephanie, Jake & Rosa Sawer, and Nigel & Naomi Yandell for their support of this album.

This recording was made possible by funding from RVW Trust, PRS Foundation, The Hinrichsen Foundation and Royal Academy of Music.

hinrichsen         rvw         prsf   RAM


All works recorded at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 13-15 April 2019

DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer

Universal Edition
Catalogue number:
NMC D251
Release Date:
27 September 2019