Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ever since its formation, Ensemble Musikfabrik has had the reputation of being one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music. Following the literal meaning of its name, Ensemble Musikfabrik is particularly dedicated to artistic innovation. New, unknown, and often personally commissioned works in unusual media are typical of their productions. The results of their extensive work, usually taking place in close collaboration with the composers, are presented by the Cologne-based international soloist ensemble in about 80 concerts a year in both Germany and abroad, at Festivals, in their own series “Musikfabrik in WDR” and in regular radio recordings and CD productions.

The musicians themselves take the responsibility for making all-important decisions. Exploring forms of modern communication, and new possibilities for expression in musical and theatrical areas, are a focal point. Interdisciplinary projects that can include live electronics, dance, theatre, film, literature and creative artists, along with chamber music, and the confrontation with works using open form and improvisation, extend the traditional conducted ensemble concerts. Lecture concerts and the experimentation with alternative concert forms involving audience participation are also part of this. Thanks to its extraordinary profile, and its superb artistic quality, the Ensemble Musikfabrik is sought after world wide and is a trusted partner of renowned composers and conductors. Since 2013 the ensemble owns a complete replicated set of the Harry Partch instruments. Furthermore, the double bell brass instruments are another outstanding trait of the ensemble's eagerness to experiment.

The ensemble’s guest list is as prominent as it is long: It includes Mark Andre, Louis Andriessen, Stefan Asbury, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Unsuk Chin, Péter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Toshio Hosokawa, Michael Jarrell, Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lang, Liza Lim, Benedict Mason, Mouse on Mars, Carlus Padrissa (La Fura dels Baus), Emilio Pomàrico, Enno Poppe, Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Rundel, Rebecca Saunders, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ilan Volkov and Sasha Waltz.

Ensemble Musikfabrik is supported by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Kunststiftung NRW supports the series “Musikfabrik in WDR”.

Image Credit: 
Katharina Dubno

Asbury, Stefan


In demand with leading orchestras worldwide, Stefan Asbury is renowned for his innovative programming. He has particularly strong relationships with  composers including Oliver Knussen, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Unsuk Chin and Mark Anthony Turnage, and collaborates regularly with Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, Musikfabrik and the London Sinfonietta.

Since 1995 Stefan Asbury has served on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center and currently holds the Sana H. Sabbagh master teacher chair on the Conducting Faculty which he has held since 2005. He was Music Director of the Remix Ensemble Casa da Musica Porto from 2001-2005, working with them to commissioning and programming an innovative mix of jazz, film and music theatre. From 2011 he has been Chief Conductor of the Noord Nederlands Orkest, after holding the position of Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and working regularly with the Basel Sinfonietta and the NDR Sinfonieorchester (Hamburg). His many opera productions have included John Adams’ A Flowering Tree for the 2009 Perth International Arts Festival, Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz for the 2008 Wiener Festwoche, Johannes Maria Staud's Berenice at Munich Biennale and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Karlsruhe.

His recordings include works by Unsuk Chin and Jonathan Harvey with Ensemble Intercontemporain, and an award-winning disc of Gerard Grisey's music with WDR Koln.

Quatuor Diotima

Quatuor Diotima

The Quatuor Diotima is one of the most in-demand chamber ensembles in the world today. It was formed in 1996 by graduates of the Paris National Conservatory.

The quartet’s name evokes a double musical significance: Diotima is at once an allegory of German romanticism – Friederich Hölderlin gives the name to the love of his life in his novel Hyperion- and a rallying cry for the music of our time, brandished by Luigi Nono in his composition Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima.

The Quatuor Diotima has worked in close collaboration with several of the greatest composers of the late twentieth century, notably Pierre Boulez (who revised his Livre pour Quatuor for them) and Helmut Lachenmann. The quartet regularly commissions new works from the most brilliant composers of our time, including Toshio Hosokawa, Miroslav Srnka, Alberto Posadas, Mauro Lanza, Gérard Pesson, Rebecca Saunders and Tristan Murail.

Reflected in the mirror of today’s music, the quartet projects a new light onto the masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially Beethoven, Schubert, the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg and Webern), as well as Janáček, Debussy, Ravel and Bartók.

In the quartet’s rich discography one finds, notably, their interpretations of the Second Viennese School and the definitive version of the Livre pour Quatuor by Pierre Boulez (on Megadisc). Their recordings are regularly praised and awarded by the international musical press: French magazine Diapason’s Diapason d’Or (five awards including two Best of the Year), Classica (Best of the Year), Télérama, Grammophone (Editor’s Choice), The Strad, and many others.

BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930, and as the flagship orchestra of the BBC provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with at least a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given the premiere of more than 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and more recently has premiered BBC commissions by Simon Bainbridge, Jonathan Dove, Michael Nyman and Sir John Tavener among others. Its annual season of concerts as Associate Orchestra of the Barbican includes a weekend each January focusing upon a single composer from the twentieth or twenty-first century, most recently James MacMillan, Elliott Carter and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Jiří Bĕlohlávek took up the post of Chief Conductor in July 2006 and David Robertson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2005. The BBC SO works frequently with Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist-in-Association John Adams. All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any orchestra in the UK. The BBC SO is committed to innovative education work, with ongoing projects including the BBC SO Family Orchestra and Music Intro, introducing families to concert-going.

The BBC SO has appeared on 34 of NMC’s CDs, including the best-selling recording of Elgar’s Third Symphony.

Robertson, David


David Robertson – conductor, artist, thinker, and American musical visionary – occupies some of the most prominent platforms on the international music scene.  A highly sought-after podium figure in the worlds of opera, orchestral music, and new music, Robertson is celebrated worldwide as a champion of contemporary composers, an ingenious and adventurous programmer, and a masterful communicator whose passionate advocacy for the art form is widely recognized.  A consummate and deeply collaborative musician, Robertson is hailed for his intensely committed music making.

Robertson has served in artistic leadership positions at musical institutions including the Orchestre National de Lyon, and, as a protégé of Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble InterContemporain, which he led on its first North American tour.  At the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he served as Principal Guest Conductor.  Robertson has served as a Perspectives Artist at Carnegie Hall, where he has conducted, among others, The Met Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  He appears regularly in Europe with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and at the Berlin Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC Proms, and the Musica Viva Festival in Munich.

Robertson is the recipient of numerous musical and artistic awards, and in 2010 was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.  He is devoted to supporting young musicians and has worked with students at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, Lucerne, at the Paris Conservatoire, the Juilliard School, Music Academy of the West, and the National Orchestra Institute.  In 2014, he led the Coast to Coast tour of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Robertson was educated at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting.  He is married to pianist Orli Shaham, and lives in New York.

Image Credit: 
Jay Fram
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Ensemble Musikfabrik
Stefan Asbury conductor

Quatuor Diotima
BBC Symphony Orchestra
David Robertson conductor


The centrepiece of this album is formed by a substantial string quartet in seven movements. To anyone who knows Sam Hayden and his music, the seemingly traditional genre may come as a surprise. Transience, here performed by Quatuor Diotima, explores the sonics of extended techniques - it is a work full of soft, ‘whistling’ overtones as well as microtones. It is dedicated to the late Jonathan Harvey, who was Sam Hayden's teacher, mentor and friend.

Relative Automony, for 16 players, is dense, rich and visceral. A heavy layer of bass instruments – contrabass clarinet and contrabassoon, tuba and bass trombone, cello and double bass – is contrasted with the prominent use of instruments at the opposite extreme, such as piccolo flute and E flat clarinet. Substratum follows in a similiar vein but includes contrast between passages of frantic activity and sudden periods of stasis when notes are sustained as if frozen in time.

This album includes the bonus track Die Abkehr. Hayden explains, ‘the more poetic meanings of the title hint at a critical commentary on the increasingly nostalgic and inward-looking culture of the UK ... the composition is the latest of a cycle of pieces that combine ideas related to “spectral” traditions with algorithmic approaches to composition, where aspects of the pitch and rhythmical materials are computer-generated using IRCAM’s OpenMusic.’ Available for FREE with all purchases of the Substratum album. Also available separately here.




'The title piece is a large-orchestral unfolding that unites compelling turbulence with rarest detail' The Sunday Times

'a substantial, impressive work of complex orchestral texture' Records International

'Sam Hayden has developed his own compositional trajectory with tenacity and vigour' The Wire

'fierce explosions of sound ... the music's sonic imprint is unmistakably Hayden's own.' Gramophone


Special thanks to Hinrichsen Foundation, RVW Trust and Research at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance for their support of this album.

Hinrichsen      RVW     Trinity Laban


Relative Autonomy was commissioned by London Sinfonietta. Substratum was commissioned by BBC Radio 3. Transience was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and Quatuor Diotima with the support of DRAC Centre/Région Centre France.


Relative Autonomy and Die Abkehr were recorded at Funkhaus Wallrafplatz, WDR, Köln, Germany on 6 October 2017.

STEPHAN SCHMIDT Recording Producer


Substratum was recorded at Barbican Hall, London on 8 December 2008.

NEIL PEMBERTON Recording & Editing Engineer
ANN MCKAY Recording Producer


Transience was recorded at St Paul's Hall, Huddersfield on 26 November 2016.

SAM HAYDEN Recording Producer



Verlag Neue Musik GmbH
Catalogue number:
NMC D247
Release Date:
15 November 2019