David Matthews composer

In July 1990 I was staying at the conductor Norman Del Mar's house in Millook on the north coast of Cornwall, finishing my large orchestral piece The Music of Dawn. Each evening there were spectacular sunsets, and I used to go up on the cliff to paint them in watercolours.

The Music of Dawn is concerned with the sun in all its aspects, and I am sure that these paintings assisted the compositional process: the one above was painted on 15th July, and next morning I wrote the music you can see and hear, in its final orchestral form, on the website introduction page.


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Recent and Forthcoming Performances

26/01/2020  --  Vier Ernste Gesänge (Brahms arr. Matthews)

Modestas Sedlevicius, baritone | Conducted by Dieter Baran | Baden-Württemberg Concertino, Offenburg

Work details: Vier ernste Gesange (Brahms arr. Matthews)

27/01/2020  --  White Flame

Victoria Simmonds, mezzo-soprano | Nash Ensemble | The Queen’s Hall, Clerk Street, Newington, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG

Work details: White Flame, Op.149

20/03/2020, 7.45pm  --  Eight Duos for Two Violins (selection)

Emma Purslow, Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux, violins | The Atrium, Kentish Town Health Centre, 2 Bartholomew Road, London, NW5 2BX

Work details: Eight Duos, Op.79

02/04/2020, 1pm  --  Band of Angels

Catherine Ennis, organ | St John’s Smith Square, Westerminster, London, SW1P 3HA

Work details: Band of Angels, Op.85

04/04/2020, 8pm  --  A Song for Max

Fiona Slominska, flute | John Slack, clarinettist | Hannah Dawson, violin | Cara Berridge, cello | James Bailieu, piano | Memorial Hall, 73-75 Lairgate, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU17 8HN

Work details: A Song for Max, Op.143

29/04/2020, 7.30pm  --  String Quartet (Elgar arr. Matthews)

English String Orchestra | Conducted by Kenneth Woods | Great Malvern Priory, Church Street, Malvern, WR14 2AY

Work details: String Quartet, Op.83 (Elgar arr. Matthews)

10/05/2020, 2pm  --  It Takes Two

Emma Arizza, violin | Maria Grecu, piano | Burgh House, New End Square, Hampstead, London, NW3 1LT

Work details: It takes two (violin, piano), Op.51f

16/05/2020, 7.30pm  --  Premiere: Vers la Flamme (Scriabin arr. Matthews)

Ealing Symphony Orchestra | John Gibbons, conductor | St Barnabas Church, Pitshanger Lane, London, W5 1QG

Work details: Vers la flamme (Scriabin arr. Matthews)

20/06/2020  --  Dark Pastoral (Vaughan Williams arr. Matthews)

Paul Böhme, cello | Conducted by Wolfgang Endros | Nordhein-Westfalen Musikgemeinschaft Marl | Theater Marl, 45768 Marl, Germany

Work details: Dark Pastoral, Op.112

Other news

08/04/2019  --  News from the mixing desk (updated April 2019)

David’s Thirteenth Quartet was recorded towards the end of 2018 for release on CD this year. In addition to the customary four string players, the work features four singers and was written in memory of a close friend, Peter Sculthorpe. Musical Opinion (Oct-Dec 2018) described its performance in July by the Kreuzer Quartet, alongside singers Rebecca Lea, Jess Dandy, Will Dawes and James Robinson, as 'A moving tribute to a fellow composer and a searching addition to a genre which David Matthews has made his own.' Paul Conway goes on to call the Thirteenth Quartet a 'tightly written piece that covered a vast spectrum of emotion in a short space of time. There was quirkiness and wit as well as noble tranquillity in a persuasive premiere performance of great warmth and humanity.' Hear the Thirteenth Quartet together with David’s Eighth and Fourteenth Quartets on the Kreuzer’s upcoming 2019 disk with Toccata Classics.

30/09/2019  --  Reviews of recording of Symphony No.9

See full recording details and listen to a sample.

David's Ninth Symphony has received a series of formidable reviews since its release with Nimbus Alliance in May 2019.

Robert Matthew-Walker for Classical Source describes the symphony as "A serious and compelling work of consistent musical art throughout… Here, in a number of ways, is a genuine symphony for our times." (Sep 2019).

Philip Scott for Limelight Magazine dubs Matthews "a genuine symphonist" whose Ninth "squeezes every drop of developmental interest out of his theme." (Aug 2019).

The disk also contains the Double Concerto and Variations on Bach's Chorale Die Nacht ist Kommen. For Guy Rickards of New Klassik, "A couple of other works on the record confirm Matthews as a champion of England's top league of string orchestra composers, along with Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Tippett." (June 2019).

Of the broader symphonic landscape in contemporary British composition, Robert Matthew-Walker writes, "In its way, Matthews 9 is a masterpiece: in wartime 1943, when Matthews was born, the population of the World was around 2.5-billion. Today, it approaches 8-billion, but whereas in 1943 one could legitimately cite more than twenty greatly significant composers active and producing music that was widely admired and which has stood the test of time, today, there is barely a handful, yet amongst them must be counted David Matthews" (Sep 2019).

22/11/2019  --  CD releases: Beethoven Plus Volume II / Elgar Cello Concerto, Dark Pastoral

As we draw to the close of 2019, two pieces of David’s music which creatively respond to pre-existing works will be released on CDs by Somm Recordings and Columbia respectively. The first, Sonatina, is a companion piece to Beethoven’s last violin sonata, Op.96, drawing upon and compressing snippets of musical source material. David also employs the same tempo markings as Beethoven.

The second recently recorded piece, Dark Pastoral, represents a completion of the slow movement from Vaughan Williams’ unfinished cello concerto, orchestrated and completed by David.


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