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Howard Skempton:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

BCMG Martyn Brabbins conductor
Roderick Williams baritone - Christopher Yates viola

NMC D234

D234 Cover • Howard Skempton celebrates his 70th birthday in October 2017.

• Skempton's hugely successful Lento for orchestra, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, is available on NMC D005.

• Recent commissions include a Piano Concerto for John Tilbury, for the BBC and premiered at the 2016 Tectonics Festival in Glasgow; a new string quartet written for the Brodsky Quartet and a setting of Man and Bat by D. H. Lawrence, written for Roderick Williams.

Perfectly crafted, deceptively simplistic and distinctively individual, Howard Skempton's compositions have a soundworld all of their own.   This new full-length album on NMC perfectly displays his experimental, yet sonorous and tonal music.

Skempton takes on Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and brings it to life, using just solo voice (baritone) and small chamber ensemble.   The result is a stunning, dark and hypnotic journey led by the almost constant, magnetic presence of Roderick Williams, for whose voice and dramatic capabilities the piece was conceived.

Only the Sound Remains takes its name from the opening line of The Mill-Water by English poet Edward Thomas.   The piece is an evocation of loss and decay, where textures, and melodies mysteriously recur, while others simply fade beautifully out of aural reach.   It is written for sixteen players, including solo viola.

This is a stunning premiere recording of two recent works by one of Britain's finest living composers.


  1. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner       32'13
      Roderick Williams, baritone • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

  2. Only the Sound Remains      31'07
      Christopher Yates, viola • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
      Martyn Brabins, conductor

      Total timing:       63'25

NMC Recordings are distributed in Australia by
Rockian Trading, P.O.Box 44, Briar Hill, Vic, 3088, Australia
Telephone (03) 9432 4149 ~ Facsimile (03) 9444 6879