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

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird / The Shadow of Night / The Cry of Anubis
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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: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,258 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
1
30
14:05
Album Only
2
30
28:15
Album Only
3
30
13:24
Album Only
Digital Booklet: Harrison Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird, The Shadow of Night & The Cry of Anubis
Digital Booklet: Harrison Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird, The Shadow of Night & The Cry of Anubis
Album Only

Product Description

Product 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.

Review

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

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Britten famously walked out of Harry Birtwistle's opera, Punch and Judy, at the 1968 Aldeburgh Festival (or retired to the anteroom behind the director's box for a drink, depending whose account you believe - all accounts agree that he `was quite appalled by what he heard'). This makes an interesting reflection in the light of this new disc of Birtwistle's music which deals with matters of the night and with reflections on the melancholia of Dowland's music that was also once the object of Britten's explorations. Only four years before that Aldeburgh Festival, Britten had written his own Nocturnal after John Dowland for Julian Bream during a period when he, too, was fascinated by things nocturnal and was writing The Dream, the Nocturne, the Notturno, his setting of Goethe's Um Mitternacht, not to mention the `Let Us Sleep Now...' finale of War Requiem.

While musically very different from the Britten works, the mood of mystery and melancholy in these three Birtwistle pieces is not so dissimilar. The first two - Night's Black Bird and The Shadow of Night - are a complementary pair, both exploring the moods evoked by Albrecht Durer's engraving, Melancholia I, and sparked by the melodic and harmonic lines of two Dowland songs, Flow My Tears and In Darkness Let Me Dwell respectively. Though the orchestral textures and the ebb and flow of the related tempi hark back to Earth Dances and Gawain, the spirit of the music perhaps leads us even further back through Birtwistle's oeuvre to the worlds of Tragoedia (1965), Nenia (1970), The Fields of Sorrow (1971) and, of course, Melencolia I (1976). The moods and feelings engendered by melancholia (in its Elizabethan sense) have, it seems, always held Birtwistle in their thrall.
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