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Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird / The Shadow of Night / The Cry of Anubis

Harrison Birtwistle Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: £11.04 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Sir Harrison Birtwistle was born in Accrington in the north of England in 1934 and studied clarinet and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music, making contact with a highly talented group of contemporaries including Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, John Ogdon and Elgar Howarth. In 1965 he sold his clarinets to devote all his efforts to composition, and travelled to ... Read more in Amazon's Harrison Birtwistle Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird / The Shadow of Night / The Cry of Anubis + Birtwistle: Complete String Quartets + Birtwistle: The Triumph of Time; Earth Dances; Panic
Price For All Three: £31.28

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Product details

  • Performer: Owen Slade
  • Orchestra: The Halle Orchestra
  • Conductor: Ryan Wigglesworth
  • Composer: Harrison Birtwistle
  • Audio CD (16 May 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: NMC
  • ASIN: B004W7GPLU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,963 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Night's Black BirdThe Halle / Ryan Wigglesworth, conductor14:10Album Only
Listen  2. The Shadow of NightThe Halle / Ryan Wigglesworth, conductor28:21Album Only
Listen  3. The Cry of AnubisOwen Slade, tuba/ The Halle / Ryan Wigglesworth, conductor13:24Album Only

Product Description


Birtwistle's most impressive orchestral canvas to date ... Birtwistle comes across as an old master. --Financial Times

CD Description

The Shadow of Night is a slow nocturne, exploring the world of melancholy, inspired by the composer s life-long fascination with Dürer s engraving Melencolia I and Night s Black Bird (commissioned by the Roche Foundation) continues the with the same reflective musical imagery. The Cry of Anubis, part tuba concerto, part tone poem, grew out of Birtwistle s fascination with Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the necropolis in Egyptian mythology who played an important part in Birtwistle s surreal recent opera The Second Mrs Kong (1993-94). This is The Hallé s first recording for NMC. This collection of works by Harrison Birtwistle span a period of ten years (1994-2004). All are premiere recordings.

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a great new disc of orchestral music by Birtwistle with the same high quality of earlier works such as "The Triumph of Time" (1971-2) and "Earth Dances" (1985-6). It represents a continuation of Birtwistle's handling of musical time -- "the constant disruption of forward motion, so that the listener has the recurrent sense of having to repeat the journey by a different route, or of retracing steps in a maze -- never finally arriving or getting out" (from the excellent liner notes by Bayan Northcott).

The central and longest piece is "The Shadow of Night" (2001 -- 28'15), commissioned by the BBC and scored for a very large orchestra with six horns, four each trumpets and trombones, and five percussionists. Birtwistle describes it as "a slow and reflective nocturne, exploring the world of melancholy as understood and celebrated by Elizabethan poets and composers... I took inspiration from two dark sources -- the expressions of melancholy in Albrecht Durer's engraving 'Melancholia I' (1514) and John Dowland's song 'In Darkness Let Me Dwell'." He goes on to describe his use of a three-note motif from Dowland's song. The title comes from a long poem by the Elizabethan poet George Chapman where, according to Birtwistle, "melancholy is no longer an inert and depressive mood, but a humour of the night, an inspired spiritual condition."

As described by Northcott, "Shadow of Night" has three parts, "[t]he first is a substantial introductory section of tenebrous and sub-lunary textures, halting melodic fragments and anticipatory upsurges and descents.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
. . . if you don't like Birtwhistle, you will hate it !
I have noticed when reading serious music reviews that if the piece is well known and part of the general repertoire, then the reviewer tends to concentrate on the performance and recording, but where the music is relatively unknown, or it is the first recording, greater emphasis is put on a discussion of the relative merits of the piece itself. I have listened to quite a bit of Birtwhistle now - one piece that I have particularly come to love is 'The Triumph of Time' - another is his recent opera 'The Minotaur'. This recent offering is in a similar dark-hued, rugged form, which on first-hearing would be termed 'difficult' by many I'm sure. I find a bit of perseverance to familiarise oneself always pays off, as it does when listening to anything, and I now enjoy this music greatly. I cannot comment on the performance, not having any other versions to compare, but the recording and presence is excellent, and to anyone who feels like letting some quality modern serious music wash over their eardrums, I recommend this CD wholeheartedly
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation... 17 Nov 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have never been a huge fan of modern 'classical' music; tending to shy away from the stereotype of the self-consciously discordant.

However, when I saw this album feature so highly in the Gramophone Awards 2011 I decided to give it a try (OK, so shoot me for being so weak minded). I have to say that I am really glad I did - yes, there is an element of the discordant but it is so beautifully and powerfully done that the end result is a darkly moving and visceral piece that I have only just begun to explore, after several outings.

This is a great album and, for me at least, it has opened up a new vista of music.
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