Gramophone guest blog

Colin Matthews chooses 10 contemporary music recordings

Colin Matthews - NMCThu 21st April 2011
The record I'm most proud of: Birtwistle's Mask of OrpheusThe record I'm most proud of: Birtwistle's Mask of Orpheus

NMC's founder launches a series of guest NMC artist blogs

Introducing a new series of guest blogs in association with the NMC label, in which an artist reflects on their current activities, and then recommends 10 contemporary music recordings they’d encourage music lovers to listen to. 

Colin Matthews

Interesting times at NMC now that we know we are to be part of the Arts Council National Portfolio: it gives us something of a safety net in the ever-precarious world of contemporary music. We've never expected to make a profit out of what we do – only a handful of recordings from our catalogue, now approaching 175 releases, has managed to break even – so this is a confidence booster. No need to go down market or cut corners on the quality of what we do just yet!

I've been somewhat out of the loop on our activities for much of this year, having taken on more deadlines than are comfortable, and as I write this I'm less than half way through a piece for the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Riccardo Chailly, which needs to be finished by June. But it's a useful reminder for the top 10 contemporary CDs that I'm supposed to be choosing, as Chailly's Varese collection with the Concertgebouw (I know it's not remotely contemporary, but it puts to shame a lot of what passes for new today) is part of my eclectic mix. These are just a few of the things that head my list, for all sorts of different reasons: by no means all new, and not all NMC either (tempting though it is to include more than three – a couple are relatively recent, but Birtwistle's now well over a decade old Mask of Orpheus is the recording I'm most proud of). So here they are, in alphabetical order, with the proviso that on another day I could easily find 10 others just as worthy :

1. Michel van der Aa Trilogy
Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra / Peter Eötvös, Etienne Siebens (Disquiet Media) Amazon

2. Hans Abrahamsen Schnee
Ensemble Recherche (Winter & Winter) Amazon

3. Julian Anderson Book of Hours
BCMG/Oliver Knussen (NMC D121) NMC

4. Richard Rodney Bennett Songs Before Sleep
Roderick Williams, Iain Burnside (NMC D155) NMC

5. Harrison Birtwistle Mask of Orpheus
BBCSO / Andrew Davis, Martyn Brabbins (NMC D050) NMC

6. Elliott Carter Concerto for Orchestra
London Sinfonietta / Oliver Knussen (20/21) Amazon

7. Gerard Grisey Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil
Klangforum Wien / Sylvain Cambreling (Kairos) Amazon

8. Per Nørgard Symphony 6
Danish National Symphony / Thomas Dausgaard (Chandos) Amazon

9. Wolfgang Rihm Jagden und Formen
Ensemble Modern / Dominique My (20/21) Amazon

10. Edgard Varese Complete Works
Concertgebouw / Riccardo Chailly (Decca) Amazon

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