Symphonic Music for Strings and Brass - Philip Sawyers

“…music of instant appeal and enduring quality performed with zealous passion recorded in excellent sound. Well-worth investigating.” Nick Barnard, MusicWeb-International, Oct 2010, Orchestral Music, NI6129, Grand Rapids Symphony, David Lockington “….his 1972 student work Symphonic Music for Strings and Brass was performed in 2002…the piece stands up as a remarkable achievement for a student composer of barely 21.” Peter Dickinson – Gramophone “I was bowled over by ‘concert overture’ ‘The Gale of Life’….I feel that the form and the orchestration of this overture admirably reflects the sentiment of the ‘unsettling and disturbing’ words of Housman’s great poem. This is powerful music that evokes Sawyers’ trademark balance of juxtaposing ‘quite traditional chords and a highly chromatic, freely dissonant harmonic vocabulary.’…The Symphony No. 1 is an impressive work. The work concludes...

Violin Sonatas - Elgar & Philip Sawyers

“…these few works available on disc are sufficient to expel Sawyers as one of the truly great British composers.” Musik & Theater Magazine (Switzerland), Jan 2014, Violin Sonatas, NI6240, Steinberg Duo “powerfully persuasive…beholden stylistically to no obvious external influence…” Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb-International, Jan 2014, Violin Sonatas, NI6240, Steinberg Duo “…violin-writing that similarly reveals Sawyers’ gift for exploiting the full expressive and technical range of the violin… it is good to welcome two works to the repertory that deserve to be widely performed. One hopes that this Nimbus Alliance disc will do the trick.” Edward Greenfield, Gramophone Magazine, Dec 2013, Violin Sonatas, NI6240, Steinberg Duo “…it is refreshing to hear some respectable, honest, down-to-earth serial music that delights in a subtle balance between dissonance and consonance, controlled...

Cello Concert & Sympnony No 2 - Philip Sawyers

“All in all this is an excellent disc, powerful music presented in performances it is hard to imagine being easily surpassed. This is accessible in the best sense ? knotty but not opaque, challenging but compelling. When it is this good not a lot else matters.” Nick Barnard in MusicWeb International” 2nd Symphony, Cello Concerto, Concertante, NI6281 “Power, strength and expressive range are here a-plenty, and the continuous flow of the music is gripping. The performances are totally committed and the recording quality is really fine. This is the kind of music that gives one hope for the future of our art.” Robert Matthew-Walker in Classical Source, 2nd Symphony, Cello Concerto, Concertante, NI6281 “Sawyers is a composer of real quality. His music is always fascinating in its breadth of ideas as well as its execution as this disc so amply demonstrates.” Steve Arloff in...

Symphony No 3 - Philip Sawyers

“Philip Sawyers’s 3rd symphony (2015) is undoubtedly one of the finest British symphonies of recent years…music of searing intensity…The fifth song, ‘Futility’, serves to mark Sawyers’s stature as a composer: the same Owen sonnet as memorably set by Britten in the War Requiem, I aver that Sawyers’s is the profounder of the two. Finally comes the meaty Fanfare (2016) – really a motet for orchestral brass. Great music, great performances and great sound from Nimbus, engineered by Simon Fox-Gal.” Guy Rickards – Gramophone. (Nimbus Alliance NI 6353) “Philip Sawyers’s Third Symphony is a major new work from a distinctive voice in British music…a work of impressive symphonic unity and drama.” Gavin Dixon – Classical CD reviews. “I have no reservations in pronouncing this a very fine work indeed and one which deserves a place in any orchestra’s repertoire…Throughout the CD the utter...

Violin Concerto

“…the Violin Concerto.. does exude a distinct mid20th-century quality in its formal and expressive objectivity. Both the outer movements keep their lyricism firmly in check through a tensile rhythmic sense, with even the Andante having a restiveness and tension to offset any hint of indulgence: no nostalgic lingering here….Alexander Sitkovetsky renders this piece with appropriate verve, as does Simon Desbruslais the Concerto for trumpet, strings and timpani that arguably leaves the stronger impression. Here the combative outer Allegros make incisive play with this three-way combination, and the central slow movement explores emotional depths which seem the greater for not being dwelt upon. Such probing intensity is no less tangible in The Valley of Vision, a symphonic poem inspired by Samuel Palmer – notably his visionary early landscapes – whose control of momentum, through to the...

Symphony No 4 - Philip Sawyers

The emergence of Sawyers as a major symphonist of his generation has been among the more significant aspects of latter-day British music…. impressively assured readings by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Kenneth Woods… It will be fascinating to hear just where Sawyers goes from here on his eventful symphonic odyssey.” Richard Whitehouse, Arcana FM  “A #21stCenturySymphony and symphonic poem so spectacular, confident and emotionally compelling that it’s inspired me to write a #SymphonistOfTheWeek thread as well!…Listening again to this movement early this morning gave me goosebumps the like of which I haven’t felt with a piece of new music in a long, long time. It seems I’m not the only one.” Adam Philp, The Symphonist “From the pen of Philip Sawyers (a Londoner born in 1951), these are quite the best two pieces this...

Double Concerto for Violin and Cello - Philip Sawyers

There must be some mysterious metaphysical organism at play which compels English composers to write such potently expressive music for string orchestra. Gustav Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Edward Elgar’s Elegy for Strings, Frank Bridge’s Lament, to select but a few examples. Written as recently as 2021, the Remembrance for Strings by Philip Sawyers, poignantly performed here by the English String Orchestra, without a doubt belongs near or at the top of that list. Based on an evocative, recurring seven note motif that weaves its way through the whole piece as if part and parcel of the orchestral fabric, it stuns the listener when, at the very end, this motif rises to the top and, in one final breath, shines brightly. It was composed at the request of a friend who had recently lost his mother, and certainly captures the sentiment...

Booklet Artwork by Philip Groom