The London Sinfonietta’s contribution to the Southbank Centre’s cornucopia of all things British – the 2011 revival of the Festival of Britain – came in the form of a journey through the landscape of British contemporary music, with figures both little-known and well-established represented. The night’s acclaimed veteran was Colin Matthews, whose evocative piece Night Rides was premiered by the mightily-skillful Sinfonietta, under the baton of Britain’s latest wunderkind conductor, Nicholas Collon.
In a programme that produced strong reactions, Night Rides got a number of positive press comments:
…Colin Matthews's Night Rides made an absorbing debut: a sinister, galloping movement that pays homage to Sibelius, perhaps, and to Strauss in its downward-sweeping sunset music.
Guardian (Erica Jeal), 31 May 2011
Similarly long-term is Colin Matthews’s Night Rides (2011), its title close to Sibelius’s Night Ride and Sunrise (as Matthews acknowledges) and with similar “galloping” rhythms. Matthews’s glinting soundworld (including a digital piano and two alto flutes) is supported by pungent woodwinds (two bass clarinets part of the scene) and in the passages of craggy stillness (offsetting purposeful impetus) Pierre Boulez-like timbres seemed to enter, if peripherally, into the equation. Originally Matthews had a sunset element in his title, but suppressed it, so the winding-down of the coda may equate to such an image; this following much scintillation, a flugelhorn and soprano saxophone imbibing the listener with their distinctive tones. Night Rides is a rewarding 13 minutes’ worth. (Colin Anderson), 30 May 2011
The sketches for Night Rides date back to 2006, but the majority of the work was composed between 2009-2011. The piece is dedicated to Barry Till in recognition of his contribution to contemporary music. It is a London Sinfonietta commission, generously supported by Sir Vernon Ellis and the London Sinfonietta Commissioning Circle.