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  and symphonic poem so spectacular, confident and emotionally compelling that it’s inspired me to write a  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 composer has yet given us…Symphony No.4 (2018) opens in arresting style, a bold summons that bids our involvement in some very strong symphonic argument and varied emotions…placed last is an expansive Adagio, with motivic connections to what has gone before, of haunting intimate expressivity countered by waves of intense fortissimo, and the soaring conclusion wraps the whole convincingly… The half-hour Hommage to Kandinsky (2014), written for the Grand Rapids Symphony, is equally impressive…from misty opening to a troubled ending; listener-interest never flags. Like the Symphony, Hommage to Kandinsky is scored with consummate skill (Kandinsky is for the larger forces) to which the BBC National Orchestra of Wales responds with relish and sensitivity, led by Kenneth Woods with typical flair and compassion.” Colin Anderson, Classical Source

“Here we have two significant and eloquent new works. Both display command of the orchestra and an imaginative mind at work. Both of these compositions require concentrated listening but they will reward the listener for his or her efforts. The more I hear of Philip Sawyers’ music, the more impressed I am. Here, he receives ideal advocacy from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, whose playing is expert and committed. In Kenneth Woods this composer clearly has a formidable champion; under his direction the performances exude conviction.” John Quinn, MusicWeb International

“Sawyers’ Fourth Symphony develops further the assured symphonic technique already evident in its predecessors , and consolidates his position as a major symphonist of our time…The large finale begins as a profound, tragic funeral march, the intensely moving heart of the work, now revealing that all the furious energy of the preceding movements was merely prologue. The music continues in sombre but lyrical vein until the funeral march blasts back onto the scene, heralding a long, surging move toward major key tonalities and the hard-won resolution of a blazing coda. Sawyers employs his very large Romantic orchestra to depict bold shapes in highly contrasted blocks of color, linked in structures with a sense of energetic motion, as in Kandinsky’s teeming canvases. The work’s turbulence and energy might seem surprising for an evocation of feelings aroused by abstract modern art, but this points to Sawyers’ appreciation of Kandinsky’s unique qualities – no retiring pastel watercolorist this! – and the elevation to heroic, epic stature of the subjects of Richard Strauss’ tone poems is frequently called to mind.” Records International

“…an exciting, vibrant symphonic poem as colourful as the Russian painter’s abstract art with the orchestra and Woods revelling in its rich textures and intense emotional sweep. Sawyers’ three-movement Symphony No.4 (2018) employs smaller forces and has a tense, dramatic and densely-argued first movement and ends with a serenely beautiful Adagio. Excellent playing and recording quality to match.” Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post/Midlands Music Reviews

“Phenomenal! Discover masterful, massive orchestral music by a gifted composer, in line with the greats of the 20th century…Symphony No. 4 (2018) opens with strong symphonic pulses that evoke diverse emotions, followed by a shadowy Scherzo. Finally, a sprawling Adagio, with motivic references to what has sounded before. Frightening, soft and intimate expressiveness is, as it were, counteracted by waves of intense fortissimo. A discovery! The recording, made in the Hoddinott Hall of the orchestra in Cardiff, is excellent. The impressive orchestral sound has an impact and the recording conductors have achieved an impressive dynamism that makes the many colors and details of Sawyer’s score beautifully differentiated. Cannot be missed!” Michel Dutrieue, Stretto (Belgium) [Translated from Dutch original]

“The tone poem is a strong piece, clearly structured and ultimately a song of praise about Kandinsky’s colourfulness….His three-movement Fourth Symphony is… very dramatic and thematically characteristic…Kenneth Wood[s] is a highly motivated interpreter who, as a committed advocate of this music, ignites a fire of unbridled passion in it, while at the same time providing architectural clarity so that one can fully experience the complexity of the works.” Remy Franck, Pizzicato (Luxembourg)

“You know that powerful emotion you get, that goosebump inducing rush you feel when music generates an uplifting and well-attained upshot. That’s precisely what I experience every time I hear the intense coda of the expansive Adagio third movement which concludes the Symphony No. 4 by British composer Philip Sawyers… And for me it’s not just the mighty and powerful impact of the final chords that does it, but rather how the music got there … how the conflicting ideas get resolved in the end, or how all of the smaller, less significant building blocks end up producing such an impressive edifice. Conductor Kenneth Woods and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales perform this “new” music as if it were a long established standard of the repertoire. Highly nuanced orchestration details are manifest, and a firm control on forward momentum is always apparent. Great sound and unwavering playing throughout. Tip of the hat to Nimbus Alliance for travelling down this uncharted road.” Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sentinel (Canada)