About the album
‘A born master of the orchestra’ is how the British composer John Pickard was described when BBC Music Magazine reviewed a previous disc of his orchestral music, while Fanfare called it ‘essential listening for lovers of modern music’, finding the performances ‘absolutely thrilling, emotionally involved and seamlessly evolved’. Given such reactions, it is not surprising that Pickard, Martyn Brabbins and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra decided to continue their rewarding collaboration, with results that can be heard on the present disc. The three pieces included span three decades, and in his own liner notes to the disc, Pickard remarks that the programme gives an overall sense of his development as an orchestral composer: ‘from the clear outlines of the early Sea-Change, with its indebtedness to the sound-world of several Nordic composers, through the colourful exuberance of the Piano Concerto, to the darkness and turbulence of Tenebrae.’ Completed in 2009, Tenebrae takes as its starting point a fragment from Carlo Gesualdo’s Tristis est anima mea (Sad is my soul) from the composer’s settings for the Tenebrae services of Holy Week. The work is in itself a result of the earlier collaboration between Pickard and these performers; commissioned by the Norrköping orchestra which gave it its première in 2010, it is dedicated to Martyn Brabbins. Joining the team on this disc is Fredrik Ullén, making his first recording with orchestra after a number of highly praised solo recitals. John Pickard’s piano concerto has three movements, Toccata - Passacaglia - Fuga, forming a continuous span. During the course of the thirty minute-long work, three different basic relationships between soloist and orchestra are explored: dialogue, dominance and partnership, the latter illustrated in the closing double fugue, throughout which the soloist and the orchestra work together very much as a team.