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Benjamin: A Mind of Winter

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Frequently Bought Together

Benjamin: A Mind of Winter + George Benjamin, Written on Skin, Duet for Piano and Orchestra (2 CD set) + George Benjamin 'Into The Little Hill', Dance Figures, Sometime Voices
Price For All Three: £37.48

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Product details

  • Performer: Ross Pople, Penelope Walmsley-Clark, Paul Archibald, Gareth Hulse
  • Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: Mark Elder
  • Composer: George Benjamin
  • Audio CD (3 April 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nimbus
  • ASIN: B00004RJIX
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,446 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Ringed By The Flat Horizon19:55Album Only
Listen  2. A Mind of Winter 9:20£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. At First Light I 2:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. At First Light II10:26Album Only
Listen  5. At First Light III 7:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Panorama 2:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Antara19:37Album Only

Product Description

At First Light, A Mind of Winter, Ringed by the Flat Horizon, Antara, Panorama / Penelope Walmsley-Clark, soprano - BBC Symphony Orchestra, dir. Mark Elder - London Sinfonietta, dir. George Benjamin

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By animalimitata on 13 Nov. 2007
Format: Audio CD
I bought this for Antara, which is a piece dominated by the sound of Peruvian pipes sampled for synthesizer so that they can be sounded in any octave. It is an exciting piece! The other two longer orchestral pieces are also very interesting and enjoyable. The song is a setting of Stevens. The very short piece is just a test on synths of the Peruvian pipe sound and is neither here nor there. I'd recommend this for Antara. The CD is mastered at a very low level and mine had a manufacturing defect which showed up all the more as the sound level was so low. So you might want to order this on a route where you are confident of the returns policy.
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7 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Dec. 2003
Format: Audio CD
A witty reviewer once wrote of Schoenberg's op.19 orchestral pieces: "Modern intellect has advanced beyond mere elementary noise. Schoenberg has not." How well this applies to this disc! Benjamin is no more profound than to try to imitate the physical characteristics of the landscapes he is expressing e.g. when he is writing about a storm he uses lots of very loud percussion - remarkably crude for one of the most prominent British contemporary composers. For decent contemporary music, I reccomend Nicholas Maw, James Macmillan or Adrian Williams.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The master orchestrator side of Benjamin in the spotlight 12 Sept. 2007
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Among contemporary composers George Benjamin is one of the most prominent fans of the orchestra. Though his style is nothing like that of the great French master, Benjamin studied under Olivier Messiaen and certainly gained a desire to think big from him. The four major works on this Nimbus CD--a reissue for the composer's 40th birthday of an earlier LP that lacked "Antara" and "Panorama"--are a fine example of Benjamin's writing for large forces.

Benjamin's first orchestral work was "Ringed by the Flat Horizon" (1979-80). Written when the composer was not yet twenty years old, it catapulted him to fame when it appeared at the Proms. An immature work this is not, as there's a compelling dramatic element. The cello has a prominent role (here played by Ross Pople), a somewhat lyrical voice going against the urgency and hysteria of the ensemble. Mark Elder leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the same performers as in the world premiere.

In the following pieces, the composer himself conducts the London Sinfonietta. "A Mind of Winter" for soprano and chamber orchestra (1981) is my favourite of the works on this disc. In this setting of a Wallace Stevens poem, a static, crystalline soundworld initially predominates, one of the few instances one can compare Benjamin to Messiaen. The soprano's voice, piercing the orchestral textures, is striking, and I absolutely love the last two minutes or so, where the voice and ensemble go from blockiness to a lush cloud. Here Penelope Walmsley-Clark is soprano solo.

"At First Light" for chamber ensemble (1982) is my least favourite work here. It's overlong, and there's little perceivable form. However one does admire how much sound Benjamin elicits from only 14 players. Furthermore, there are some unusual touches such as squeaking sounds like something out of Per Norgard's Symphony No. 5.

"Antara" for orchestra and electronics (1985-87) was written after Benjamin studied at IRCAM, the centre for music research in Paris which had hardly got running when the composer visited. The story goes that while Benjamin was receiving instruction in state-of-the-art computer technologies, he found musical stimulation from nearby South American buskers playing simple panpipes. Using IRCAM's resources, he created sounds of that ancient instrument, ranging from conventional ones to merely theoretical pipes many metres long, which are played by a keyboardist alongside the orchestra. Added to the mix are sampled sounds of the Centre George Pampidou, the building housing the laboratory. The result is not one of IRCAM's greatest hits (I favour, say, Boulez' "...explosante-fixe..." or Saariaho's "Amers"), but fun listening. "Panorama" for tape is a brief technical study Benjamin created before writing "Antara".

I rate this disc less than five stars because, for all his skill as an orchestrator, one may feel that a sense of innovation is lacking here. Those looking for fresh new ideas from the man would do better to check out another Nimbus disc with "Shadowlines" for piano and "Viola, Viola" for two violas. Nonetheless, fans of IRCAM and of contemporary orchestral writing may find this a splendid record.

(Verified purchase from a Chicago record shop.)
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
George Benjamin is interesting and maybe I haven't had enough time to digest... 10 Aug. 2013
By richardvjohnson - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
but I would go for Thomas Ades among contemporary British composers first, if you don't know either of them. Or even, try Django Bates, more unconventional, between classical and pop, but perhaps more vitality than the other two.
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