I've spent the last couple of years immersing myself in the NMC catalogue in an effort to get fully acquainted with modern, state of the art, orchestral music. At this stage in the process it's a toss-up for me whether it's Barry or Birtwistle who is the great hope for the musical future. As with all the most rewarding music the initial experience was blank incomprehension and a certain amount of discomfort. Now though, after some twenty or thirty listens I'm singing along quite merrily. This music has everything - endless rhythmic invention, wild, utterly individual tonality, astonishing timbres arising from completely confident harmony and orchestration, brimming with humorous grotesquerie and the odd moment of spine-chilling beauty. The cast and players for this recording throw themselves completely into the spirit of the thing. The libretto is witty, and in parts hilarious. If you're up for some highly challenging, but deeply rewarding modernity, that's also a rollicking romp to boot, then do give this a go.