Nimbus celebrates composer Richard Blackford's seventieth anniversary year with a major series of new album releases, music publications and concerts throughout 2024.
On 5 January, Nimbus Music Publishing releases scores for Babel, a new cantata for chorus, soloists, piano, organ and percussion (NMP.1126) and Clarissa's Tango. The latter has two versions: for violin and piano (NMP.1172), and for violin and string orchestra (NMP.1255). Clarissa's Tango also will be released on the same date as an audio (NI.1580) and audio-visual single (NI.1581), performed by Clarissa Bevilacqua, violin, and Thomas Hoppe, piano.
On 2 February, Lyrita Records will release a new album, comprising Babel and A Gaudi Symphony (SRCD.432). On the same date, Nimbus Records releases Blackford's Songs of Nadia Anjuman, performed by The Britten Sinfonia and soprano Elizabeth Watts, as a digital-only EP.
Babel is a dramatic cantata based on the stories of Noah’s Flood and the Tower of Babel, with a thrilling and colourful score using organ, piano and percussion. Babel uses the chorus extensively to narrate both stories, as well as to evoke the terror of the Flood, the exuberance of the construction of the tower, and of course the multi-lingual babble of languages to which they are condemned. In addition to set pieces, such as the Nimrod baritone aria, and the soprano aria, ‘Do not fear the largeness of the showers’, the three soloists often sing together as the other-worldly voice of God. The instrumental forces are relatively modest, with the piano duet supported by the sustaining power of the organ, backed by two percussionists. This sound world is redolent of those Britten masterpieces for amateur choirs, ensembles and audiences, which have inspired many composers since, and to which I too am gratefully indebted.'
Babel's vocal score (NMP.1126) is for sale; full score and parts (NMP.1127) are available to hire. Approximate duration 38 minutes.
I remember seeing the amazing film Scent a Woman starring Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar. Pacino plays a blind veteran but he has an amazing sense of smell and he invites a beautifully young woman to dance a tango, something that he does supremely well. It's just one of the coolest most beautiful scenes that I can remember. After I saw it for the fifth time I just woke up one night with the idea of a tango which wouldn't go away, so I had to write it.
Clarissa’s Tango starts with a short, cadenza-like introduction on the solo violin, the tango is cast in rondo form, with the central C section moving from the home key of D minor to D major. It’s an ebullient duet that makes virtuoso demands on the solo violin, from extreme high tessitura passages and multi-stops to fast passage work as the violin elaborates on the main tango melody.'
Clarissa's Tango for violin and piano, with Clarissa Bevilacqua, Cervo Festival, Italy: 29 August 2023
Further performances from 25 Nov 2023 to 11 Jan 2024 with LGT Young Soloists in Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and South America.
Songs of Nadia Anjuman. Elizabeth Watts (soprano) and Britten Sinfonia
Milton Court (Barbican), London, 14 October and Saffron Hall, 19 October 2023
Babel (with Three Rossetti Songs): Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Gavin Carr
St Swithun's, Bath: 13 January 2024
Click here for more details of Richard Blackford's live performances.
'The music comes from the heart with integrity, and a technical assurance...There is a crying need for this kind of music.' The Independent on Sunday