CD label featuring world premières by British composers.
Prima Facie is the meeting of two minds - Giles Easterbrook and Stephen Plews - both known in the music industry as champions of new music. They have produced or promoted hundreds of projects, many of which have won awards or been recognised as outstanding contributions to the arts.
The Byzantium Connection (PFCD114)
Prima Facie continue their interest in the solo double bass with this latest release - The Byzantium Connection.
Michael Cretu is an internationally recognised musician and composer, whose family has a long musical tradition dating back to the 17th Century. Born in Bucharest, Romania, Michael has been playing the double bass since he was 12. The Byzantium Connection tells his story and that of his family.
In the mid 18th century, during the Ottoman occupation of the Romanian principalities, Walachia, Moldova and Transylvania, musicians from Michael’s family belonged to the monastery of Bistrita and its land. Around that time, Ipsilante, the new King of Moldova and Walachia, appointed by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, bought the lands of the monastery and relocated the Cretu family to the village Odaia Vizirului, by the Danube river. King Ipsilante and his niece (who had married the count of Rome) also had an important residence nearby. There is strong evidence that the Cretu family became musicians and entertainers in residence to the King and his family. In 1848, Petrea Cretu, a member of the family band, who became very famous in the region, moved and became a violinist and singer in Braila. In 1884 he was one of the first folk musicians to talk and play at the Bucharest Philharmonic.
Michael’s uncle, Johnny Raducanu (Raducan Cretu) - the brother of Michael’s father, pianist Dumitru Cretu, is considered the father of Romanian jazz. and the annual jazz festival and competition is held in his name annually in the city of Braila. In his composition for solo Double Bass, Michael is strongly influenced by Romanian folk music and its connection with the Byzantine world. Michael believes that somehow, miraculously, Romanian folk music brought together the two diverse cultures of the east and west of the Roman Empire; on the one hand the Romanian language, (a ‘gift’ from the Romans) and its strong connection with the folk song, and on the other the vast influences from the Byzantine empire, through the Orthodox Church and Ottoman empire.
Mother of God (PFCD117) £12.50
Choral music to the Virgin Mary | Khoros, directed by Patrik Allies
This is the debut CD of Khoros, a choir formed in 2011 by Patrick Allies. In seeking a programme that would best demonstrate the choir’s versatility, Patrick drew together music composed in honour of the Virgin Mary, particularly works that refer to or celebrate some of the many names by which she is known. Such a programme enabled the presentation of music from Plainsong and renaissance polyphony to contemporary, and includes two premiere recordings: Ben Rowarth’s 'Regina caeli' and Libby Croad’s 'To the Immaculate Heart of Mary', commissioned for this disc.
The earliest music in the programme is the Solemn tone plainsong 'Salve Regina'. Hildegard of Bingen’s own mesmerising, flowing plainsong in 'O viridissima virg'a is sung by the women’s voices. From Tudor England, Robert Parsons’ setting of Ave Maria concludes with an Amen of exquisite beauty, and the same Ave Maria text is subtly combined with that of W B Yeats’ poem ‘The Mother of God’ in the vivid and powerful' Mater De'i by Sarah Rimkus. John Taverner’s 'Mother of God, here I stand' sets Lermontov’s humble prayer with profound simplicity.
The seven-part setting of' Ego flos campi' by Jacobus Clemens non Papa is full of sumptuous choral counterpoint, and an equally sonorous effect is accomplished in the rich contemporary harmonies of Eva Ugalda’s setting for men’s voices of 'Ave maris stell'a. Jan Sandström surrounds Michael Praetorius’s' Est ist ein Ros entsprungen' with clustered chords and creates an atmosphere of stillness around the wintry words.
Orlande de Lassus’ double-choir, eight-part 'Alma redemptoris mater' brings the programme to a musically thrilling conclusion. Also included are works by Lobo ('Ave regina caelorum'), Padilla ('Stabat Mater') and Britten ('A Hymn to the Virgin'). The recording venue was the compact but resonant chapel of Downing College, Cambridge.
Available to Order -
The Road Less Travelled (PFCD111) £10.00
Piano music by Geoff Cummings-Knight - performed by Duncan Honeybourne
Piano Sonata no 1
Selected preludes from Book 1 and 2
"I am particularly proud to be involved with another exciting and worthy project energised by my friend and colleague, pianist Duncan Honeybourne.
Duncan approached me to record piano music by Geoff Cummings-Knight.
There is a degree of urgency to this as Geoff is in very poor health; his wife and many supporters are keen that there is a record of this esteemed composers work.
Having now recorded Geoff's music I agree with Duncan that it is both lyrical and contemporary and fits in with the philosphy of my Prima Facie label, namely to promote and preserve British Contemporary Music.
We made a short film (on my iPhone and without a page turner) to give you a taste of Geoff's music.
We are still trying to raise enough money to release the album asap, so with this in mind please purchase a copy here, for £10 including P&P."
Geoff Cummings-Knight was born in Colwyn Bay in 1947. A strong urge to compose first exhibited itself at the age of eight, and by the age of eighteen Geoff had completed 18 piano sonatas, most of which have since been destroyed. He later studied music at the Birmingham School of Music (now the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), Goldsmith's College and Leeds University, and his numerous compositions include a symphony, a piano concerto, chamber works, songs, choral settings and stage works. In 1986 Geoff was a finalist in the Barclaycard Composer of the Year competition and in 1998 his work was featured in the TV series "Heartland FM". His works have been widely performed and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and his Piano Concerto, premiered in 1985 by Philip Challis and the Worthing Symphony Orchestra, received a further acclaimed performance in Birmingham's Adrian Boult Hall. As a teacher of music and drama for over thirty years, Geoff composed several musicals and cantatas for schools, plus a full-scale drama concerning the true story behind Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice'. Geoff is also a successful radio presenter, responsible for many hundreds of classical radio programmes on all manner of subjects.
Duncan Honeybourne enjoys a diverse profile as a pianist and in music education. His concerto debut in 1998 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the National Concert Hall, Dublin, was broadcast on radio and television, and recital debuts included London, Paris, and international festivals in Belgium and Switzerland. Duncan has toured extensively as soloist and chamber musician, broadcasting frequently for the BBC and radio networks worldwide. His many recordings reflect his interest in 20th and 21st century British piano music. He is a Tutor in Piano at the University of Southampton.
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Reviews for Preludes to Chopin:
"Brilliantly captures both the musical and the technical content…well judged and beautifully played." John France, Music Web International
This recording has a uniquely special sound, which drapes the music in a round, full, Romantic tone-colour.” Radio 100.7 Luxembourg
"The commercial success of this release shows how strongly audiences hunger for fresh interpretations of mainstream repertory, and a fresh interpretation is exactly what you get.“ James Manheim, AllMusic