David Matthews composer

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Symphonies Nos. 1, 3 & 5


Record label  Dutton Vocalion / Epoch
Recording code  CDLX 7222
Number of discs  1
Total playing time  66'33
Release date  2009
Buy from  Dutton Vocalion

Recorded at  Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
Recorded on  22-23 October 2008
Orchestra / ensemble  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conductor  Martyn Brabbins

Includes the following works:

Track   Duration   Sample   Work
1   19'42   Play   Symphony No.1, Op.9
2   22'47   Play   Symphony No.3, Op.37
3-6   23'43   Play   Symphony No.5, Op.78


American Record Guide, September/October 2009

The Dutton engineers, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and conductor Martyn Brabbins have come together to deliver one of the best releases of classical music that I've heard this year. Here are three symphnies by David Matthews (b. 1943) who is clearly leading the way in symphonic writing in England - at least in his generation... His music is freely tonal, which means that his symphonies take from the structure of the great romantics, but his language moves in and out of standard tonality where the mood suits him. Unlike Peter Maxwell Davies, his atonal ideas are more meditative than strident, his colors more varied. His darker moods last only a few bars, and his transitions not as abrupt as Havergal Brian's. I found these symphonies cogently written, neatly phrased, and excellently performed.

I'm perpetually amazed by the Dutton engineers (I do not own even a mediocre Dutton record). The sound is discreet yet full but not pushy. Symphonies 1 (1978) and 3 (1983-85) are single-movement works and are sturctured much like string quartets; in these works Matthews shows what he's learned about the articulation of ideas and how to moderate them. (His music is also nothing like Maw's or Sculthorpe's - both fine composers in their own way.) Symphony 5 (1999) makes fuller use of orchestration and has melodic hints of William Alwyn (without that man's lyrical palette). If one is to apply a label to Matthews, it must be that the man is a new sort of romantic; but I'll be swizzled if I know what kind. I can't stop playing this.

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Compelling writing... impressively performed by the BBC NOW and Martyn Brabbins