David Matthews composer

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Symphony No.7 & Vespers


Record label  Dutton Vocalion / Epoch
Recording code  CDLX 7305
Number of discs  1
Total playing time  68'41
Release date  2013
Buy from  Dutton Vocalion

Recorded at  The Lighthouse, Poole
Recorded on  19 July 2011 (Symphony No.7), 27-28 July 2013 (Vespers)
Orchestra / ensemble  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No.7), The Bach Choir (Vespers)
Conductor  John Carewe (Symphony No.7), David Hill (Vespers)
Soloists / artists  Vespers: Katie Bray (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Long (tenor)

Includes the following works:

Track   Duration   Work
1-7   46'48   Vespers, Op.66
8-10   21'42   Symphony No.7, Op.109


Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine, April 2014

Probably as important a British choral release as we'll see this year. David Matthews's Vespers, in Latin and English, inspired by Monteverdi but taking in texts by Rilke, is his largest choral work, premiered at the 1995 Huddersfield Festival in honour of the centenary of Malcolm Sargent’s birth, and unheard again till this recording. Non-doctrinal yet celebrating the religious sense as such, this is a work both of great beauty and of genuine spiritual force. It encompasses as violent an orchestral scherzo as Matthews has ever written, choral writing of rare yet eminently traditional refulgence, beautifully flexible vocal solos (Katie Bray's vibrato a bit obtrusive at times), rising in 'Pulchra es' to a peak of ecstatic utterance. I was moved and rather awed by the mastery of large forces to such humane, celebratory goals.

No mere makeweight, Matthews's recent Seventh Symphony (2009), unlike his epic Sixth, is a compact and hugely resonant single-movement structure. Commissioned to be played alongside Mahler’s Seventh, its antecedents are contrastingly Sibelian, growing from a great melodic paragraph that dominates much of the proceedings; and with its uncharacteristically decisive coda, the work has the (hopefully temporary) feel of a symphonic epilogue.

In both the Symphony and the Vespers, it's the cumulative power of Matthews’s music that impresses, the ability to build huge purposeful paragraphs that actually go somewhere and deliver on arrival - a rare faculty these days. Blazingly committed performances do full justice to, yes, one of our greatest living composers.