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SIG 053
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SIG 053

Red Leaves - Saxton / Lutyens / Williamson

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


Christopher Austin

Teresa Cahill


Brunel Ensemble


All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London

14-16 Feb 1996


Andrew Kurowski


Geoff Miles

Floating Earth

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 77:02
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Birthday Piece for Richard Rodney Bennett


Elijah's Violin

2 i. 5:58
3 ii. 4:11
4 iii. 5:05
5 iv. 6:16



Six Bagatelles, Op.113

6 i. 1:46
7 ii. 4:37
8 iii. 1:49
9 iv. 2:12
10 v. 2:14
11 vi. 1:22
12 O Saisons, ô Châteaux*, Op.13 6:26



Red Leaves




Symphony No.7 for strings

14 I Andante-Allegro vivo-Andante 7:08
15 II Allegro molto 3:43
16 III Andante 8:16
17 IV Allegro maestoso ma non troppo 2:43

Signum Classics are proud to announce The Brunel Ensemble’s first disc on Signum Classics - Red Leaves.

No ensemble other ensemble is as committed to the performance of such works from all decades of the twentieth century. Formed in 1992, the group gives thrilling performances under Christopher Austin’s inspired direction.

John McCabe’s Red Leaves was commissioned by the European Community Chamber Orchestra and the 1991 Istanbul Festival. Composer Malcom Williamson studied with Elisabeth Lutyens (as did Robert Saxton) and he was Master of the Queen’s Music until his death in 2003. One of Lutyens’ first major success was a setting of Rimbaud, O Saisons, O Chateau encored at the first performance in 1947 - but noteable for having previously been turned down by the BBC as unsingable!

The McCabe and Williamson pieces are linked by the common theme of nature, the latter being inspired by Australian landscape and history. It was commissioned for the 150th Anniversary of the State of Victoria.

For his anniversary greeting of 1986 on the occasion of his colleague’s half century, Robert Saxton presented his Birthday Piece for Richard Rodney Bennett. In which he chose in time-honoured manner to extract from Bennett’s name the musical notes available as a thematic cipher, and to fashion them after his own manner into a bracing invention for strings.

Red Leaves is a disc of modern works by British composers.


                               Performance ****    -   Sound ****

"On paper this looks a random assembly of disparate pieces, but proves instead to be an absorbing, even fascinating, collection of some splendid contemporary, and causelessly neglected no-longer-quite-contemporary works by British composers (plus one Australian). From the dramatic unisons of Robert Saxton’s unexpectedly weighty Birthday Piece for Richard Rodney Bennett to the marvellously varied writing of Malcolm Williamson’s late Seventh Symphony for strings, with its Macedonian dances and warmly elegiac Andante, there are continual surprises and satisfactions. The continuing strength of the lyric, broodingly pastoral post-Maw, post-Tippett tradition with its lush post-tonal harmony, hinted at in these works, seems to be affirmed by John McCabe’s title piece, inspired by the forests of New England in the Fall, and by the four movements of Saxton’s quasi-symphonic cycle Elijah’s Violin, a work puzzlingly left unmentioned in Nicholas Williams’s booklet notes. Counterpoised to this is the fiercer, flintier modernist aesthetic of Elisabeth Lutyens, whose long-neglected Bagatelles nevertheless disclose a marmoreal grace within their expressionistic stance, and whose brief, ecstatic Rimbaud cantata, O saisons, ô châteux, stunningly sung by Teresa Cahill, is perhaps the highpoint of the entire disc. Throughout, the playing of the Brunel Ensemble is first-rate and totally committed; the resonant (perhaps too resonant) acoustic of All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, gives this comparatively small ensemble a vibrant orchestral weight and presence. A valuable and distinctive release."

Callum MacDonald

BBC Music Magazine

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