The Music of Dawn/Concerto
Gamba / Bbc Phiharm. / Johnston
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Born in 1943 in London, David Matthews was first attracted to the idea of becoming a composer only in his teens, and initially was self-taught. After university, he had formal lessons with Anthony Milner, and worked in Aldeburgh as Benjamin Britten's assistant. His music represents a continuation of, rather than a challenge to, the great tradition of British music in the twentieth century, placing a strong emphasis on melodic lines and on what has been called 'a Romantic generosity of expression'. At the same time, it is by no means straightforwardly conservative; it speaks in a highly individual voice, and one that is still evolving. The Times wrote recently: 'Matthews is among our most conspicuous symphonists, as well as among our stalwart adherents of tonality.'
The Music of Dawn was inspired by the painting of the same name by the British artist Cecil Collins, which is reproduced on the cover of this release. Matthews recalls: 'I regard him as one of the most important painters of the twentieth century. I was particularly struck by the painting called The Music of Dawn. It immediately suggested music which, from its title, it was obviously intended to do. Cecil Collins was the most musical of painters, and I hope that he would have liked the idea of his painting being evoked in the medium of orchestral sound.' Richly scored for large orchestra, the work is an evocation of the sun, beginning in the pale light of early dawn, and ending in the blaze of noon. The concluding part of the work was composed at Norman Del Mar's house in North Cornwall.
Both A Vision and a Journey and Concerto in Azzurro were commissioned by the BBC. The 'symphonic fantasia' A Vision and a Journey was first performed by the BBC Philharmonic in 1993. Concerto in Azzurro is composed as a single large-scale movement, lasting just under twenty-five minutes. It derives its form from the first movement of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony and is also inspired by a holiday spent on the Island of Lundy and a vision of blueness found there.