Matthews: A Vision of the Sea

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Matthews: A Vision of the Sea
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Jac van Steen

[ Signum / CD ]

Release Date: Friday 22 January 2021

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A frequent collaborator with both the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Jac van Steen, David Matthews' new recording explores both the natural world and the symphonic idea, the second of which has, in his words, "obsessed me since I started composing at the age of 16".

As well the Sinfonia and Symphony No. 8, the programme includes Toward Sunrise; inspired by the sound of the sun (a rising fourth of C-F), as recorded by scientists at Sheffield University, and A Vision of the Sea; drawn from the sights and sounds of English Channel near the composers' home in Deal, Kent.

With a singular body of work spanning almost 60 years, David Matthews has established an international reputation as one of the leading symphonists of our time. Born in London in 1943, he began composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham - where he has more recently been made an Honorary Doctor of Music - and afterwards studied composition privately with Anthony Milner. He was also helped by the advice and encouragement of Nicholas Maw and spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten in the late 1960s. In the 1970s a friendship with the Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe (leading to collaboration and numerous trips to Sydney) helped Matthews find his own distinctive voice.

"The two pieces at the heart of this release date from 2013, Matthews's 60th year. They and the two shorter works reveal him at the height of his powers in both abstract and programmatic writing. Each is played with a winning combination of broad melodic sweep and finely observed detail by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Jac van Steen." BBC Music

"Matthews's Eighth projects a winning eloquence and energy without ever lapsing into ponderousness...His well-placed climaxes never pull their multicoloured punches, with imaginative orchestration admirably conveyed in these finely played and excellently engineered recordings...The world of nature is never far away in Matthews's music, and two other recent orchestral works bear witness to his delight in contexts where haunting fragments of birdsong can emerge." Gramophone Editor's Choice March 2021

"Having performed 11 of his works and commissioned five, the orchestra has a strong association with Matthews. You sense it in the precision and warmth of their playing. All the music here is steeped in spray and tide, as the title, taken from Shelley and used by Matthews for a four-movement work, suggests. Based in Deal, in Kent, with the sound and sight of the English Channel ever present, Matthews conjures a poetic seascape in this work, with the evocative calls of herring gulls never far away." The Guardian


Toward Sunrise

Symphony No. 8, Op. 131


A Vision of the Sea