Watkins, Richard

french horn

Richard Watkins is well-known as a concerto soloist and chamber music player. He was Principal Horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1985 until 1996, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founder member of London Winds.

Richard Watkins is at the forefront of promoting contemporary music for the horn. He has given premières of concertos by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Nigel Osborne, Magnus Lindberg, Dominic Muldowney, Nicola LeFanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Other premières have included James MacMillan's Quintet for Horn and Strings, Huw Watkins' Horn Trio at the Wigmore Hall in 2009 and Colin Matthews' Time Stands Still for horn, violin and piano at the 2006 Aldeburgh Festival. Watkins also premièred Britten's In Memoriam Dennis Brain, for four horns and strings, culminating in a tribute at the 2007 Proms on the 50th anniversary of Brain's death, and later recorded for NMC on Unknown Britten.

Richard Watkins is in great demand for teaching and masterclasses in Europe and the USA. He currently holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music.

Padmore, Mark


Mark Padmore has established a flourishing career in opera, concert and recital. His performances in Bach’s Passions have gained particular notice throughout the world. He was the Wigmore Hall Artist in Residence in the 2009/10 Season. As well as his regular collaborators Julius Drake, Roger Vignoles, Simon Lepper and Andrew West, he works with many internationally renowned chamber musicians including Paul Lewis, Imogen Cooper, Christian Zacharias and Till Fellner, with whom he recently performed the three Schubert Cycles at the Theatre an der Wien and Salle Gaveau, Paris.
Recent opera work includes the leading role in Harrison Birtwistle’s The Corridor at the Aldeburgh and Bregenz Festivals and future plans include Captain Vere in Britten’s Billy Budd for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In concert he has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Mark is Artistic Director of the St. Endellion Summer Festival in Cornwall.

The Nash Ensemble

The Nash Ensemble

Artistic Director: Amelia Freedman CBE FRAM

The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest chamber groups and, through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman and the virtuosity of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name. Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the avant-garde, having given first performances of over 255 new works to date. These include 150 commissions especially written for the Group, providing a legacy for generations to come. An impressive collection of recordings illustrates the same varied and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known neglected gems and important contemporary works.

The Nash makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe and the USA, and in South America, Australia and Japan. The group is a regular visitor to many British music festivals and can be heard on radio, television, at their renowned annual series at Wigmore Hall as well as at the Southbank Centre and the BBC Proms, and at music clubs throughout the country. The ensemble has won the Edinburgh Festival Critics' music award 'for general artistic excellence', and two Royal Philharmonic Society awards in the small ensemble category 'for the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music'.

Image Credit: 
Hanya Chlala/ PAL

Watkins, Paul

Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as concerto soloist, chamber musician and conductor. Born in 1970, he studied with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki, and at the age of 20 was appointed Principal Cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. During his solo career he has collaborated with world renowned conductors including Paavo Berglund, Leonard Slatkin, Sakari Oramo, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Mark Elder, Richard Hickox, Andris Nelsons, Sir Andrew Davis, and Sir Charles Mackerras. He performs regularly with all the major British orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia and City of Birmingham Symphony.
Image Credit: 
Paul Marc Mitchell


Richard Watkins performs Sea Eagle (Music for Horn)

Richard Watkins performs Sea Eagle (Music for horn)
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Richard Watkins horn

Paul Watkins cello

Huw Watkins piano

Mark Padmore tenor

The Nash Ensemble


Richard Watkins is one of the most sought-after horn players of his generation. He was Principal Horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra for twelve years, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founder member of London Winds. Closely associated with promoting contemporary music for the horn, Richard Watkins has given premieres of concertos by Maxwell-Davies, Osborne, Lindberg, Muldowney, Lefanu, and Colin and David Matthews.
The title work on this album is Peter Maxwell Davies' solo horn piece Sea Eagle (1982). It was initially considered by many to be impossible to play but is now regarded as an essential part of the horn repertoire and is even a set-piece for the prestigious Munich Horn Competition.
Richard is joined on this recording by a stellar line-up of chamber musicians, including Paul Watkins and Huw Watkins for an unusual combination of horn, cello and piano (C Matthews & Holloway), and tenor Mark Padmore to present the unmistakable soundworld of Gerald Barry. His setting of Lewis Carroll’s famous poem Jabberwocky – which is first sung in French, with expressive legato phrases, and then repeated more forcefully in German – features some delightfully unconventional horn writing.


'The horn in this interesting British Isles sequence combines with other instruments and a voice, like an atom claimed by different molecules' Sunday Times

'NMC's enterprising and thoroughly absorbing sequence shows [Richard Watkins] to be a imperious exponent of his craft and a wonderfully instinctive musician to boot ... a most valuable collection in every respect' Gramophone

‘The quality of the works on offer here should make this release appeal well beyond the ranks of new music aficionados … (with) near-flawless performances.’ BBC Music Magazine

‘Linking the varied selection is Richard Watkins’s state-of-the-art horn-playing. His sound is firm and sonorous, with no trace of that exasperating fizziness of tone.’ BBC Music Magazine

(Jabberwocky) is gorgeously over-the-top … The style? Imagine Erik Satie on crack cocaine.’ BBC Music Magazine

'Colin Matthew's Three of a tonal and has many moments of real beauty, but it speaks a modern musical language' American Record Guide

'(Jabberwocky) is entirely raucous in the best sense of the word and is a perfect marriage to Lewis Caroll's nonsensical text.' Limelight Magazine


Huw Watkins’ Trio was recorded at Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Cobham, Surrey on 24 January 2011; Sea Eagle was recorded at the same venue on 24 January 2014. Jabberwocky was recorded at All Saints Church, East Finchley, London on 17 June 2014. Prayer for a great man, Three of a Kind and Robin Holloway’s Trio were recorded at Menuhin Hall on 13-14 September 2014.

DAVID LEFEBER Recording Producer/Engineer

David Matthews’ Horn Quintet was recorded live for BBC Radio 3 at Wigmore Hall, London on 18 October 2014.

MICHAEL EMERY Recording Producer

MICHAEL BACON Recording Engineer

DAVID LEFEBER Digital Editing/Mastering

COLIN MATTHEWS Executive Producer for NMC


Peter Maxwell Davies’s Sea Eagle is published by Chester Music. Colin Matthews’ Three of a Kind and David Matthews’ Horn Quintet are published by Faber Music. Huw Watkins’ Trio and Gerald Barry’s Jabberwocky are published by Schott Music. Robin Holloway’s Trio and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Prayer for a great man are published by Boosey & Hawkes.


FRANCOIS HALL Graphic design

Cover photo: White-tailed Sea Eagle.

Photo © Mark Caunt through Shutterstock.


David Matthews’ Horn Quintet (tracks 9-10) (P) BBC 2015

Sea Eagle, Jabberwocky, Three of a kind, Watkins: Trio, Prayer for a great man, and Holloway: Trio (P) 2015 NMC Recordings Ltd

© 2015 NMC Recordings Ltd

Chester Music
Faber Music
Schott Music
Boosey & Hawkes
Catalogue number:
NMC D203
Release Date:
16 March 2015