Philip Sawyers- Symphony no. 3, Songs of Loss and Regret, Fanfare





Philip Sawyers (b. 1951)

Symphony no. 3

–English Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Woods- conductor

Songs of Loss and Regret

— April Fredrick- soprano
— English String Orchestra, Kenneth Woods- conductor


–ESO Brass, Kenneth Woods- conductor

“Philip Sawyers’s Third Symphony (2015) is undoubtedly one of the finest British symphonies of recent years. It was premiered for this recording in February this year and repeated at a memorable concert at St John’s Smith Square, a few days later, as part of the English Symphony Orchestra’s 21st-Century Symphonies programme. The design is relatively conventional, four movements with scherzo placed third (as in No 1; 2/11), unlike the compelling single-span Second (10/14). The long, visionary Adagio is its emotional heart, music of searing intensity, yet the expressive fulcrum lies rather in the Arnold-like Intermezzo, full of disarming charm and gentle humour, adjusting the context of the whole. The impact is overwhelming, on a par with Pickard’s Fifth (BIS, A/17) or David Matthews’s Seventh (Dutton, 6/14) – Matthews’s Ninth is next on the ESO’s list. The performance is terrific, and terrifically committed, superbly marshalled by Kenneth Woods.” Guy Rickards- Gramophone

“Philip Sawyers’s Third Symphony is a major new work from a distinctive voice in British music… The Third Symphony was an English Symphony Orchestra commission, and Kenneth Woods, conductor encouraged Sawyers to expand his orchestral palette, from the Mozart-sized orchestra of the Second Symphony, to a larger ensemble. Sawyers has risen to the challenge, producing a 40-minute work on an impressively grand scale, with the large brass and woodwind sections well-integrated into the music’s conception.” Gavin Dixon- Classical CD Reviews

“Profundity in any art can drain you, leave you with a feeling of cathartic emptiness, and Songs of Loss and Regret left me with just that sense that I had experienced a major statement about the human condition. If it’s not a masterpiece (a word one must deploy with caution), it is at least one of the best things of its kind in a very long time….” Martin Anderson- Musical Opinion

“Sawyers’s song-cycle is a masterpiece: I have no hesitation in claiming that on just the one hearing. The lack-of-variety implication that the overall title may suggest is disabused by two things: the quality of the settings, threaded by a unifying motif which appears in various forms, and the consequential sense of symphonic structure in the growing mood of loss, from numbing shock to anger at what has been lost, the emotion no longer constant.” Robert Matthew-Walker- Classical Source


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