Howard Skempton: The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Label: NMC Recordings
Yates, Christopher; Brabbins, Martyn; Williams, Roderick; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Just ten or fifteen years ago, the idea that two pieces might be enough to fill an album of Howard Skempton’s music would have seemed astonishing, but here are two works, each over 30 minutes long. Skempton takes on Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and presents it sparsely for solo baritone (Roderick Williams) and small chamber ensemble (BCMG). The result is a stunning, dark and hypnotic journey. The second work (Only the Sound Remains) is a piece of extraordinary richness and variety, and is written for sixteen players, with the solo viola. The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, recognized by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organization, emerged from within the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1987 and quickly established a reputation for exciting performances, innovative audience-building and learning initiatives, and a central commitment to composers and the presentation of new work. As a world-leading contemporary ensemble, BCMG has premiered over 160 works, most commissioned through its pioneering Sound Investment scheme, with a family of investors supporting each new piece.