Following NMC’s 2007 Gramophone Award-nominated Anderson portrait disc Book of Hours, in September the company released a disc of chamber pieces performed by the Nash Ensemble. The album includes The Colour of Pomegranates for alto flute and piano, Another Prayer for solo violin, The Bearded Lady for clarinet and piano, and the violin-duo version of Ring Dance, alongside three works originally composed for the Nash players: the viola solo Prayer, and two works for chamber ensemble, Van Gogh Blue and Poetry Nearing Silence.



Composed in 1997, Poetry Nearing Silence is a collection of eight engagingly quirky miniatures inspired by the work of artist Tom Phillips. In this work, commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, the highly contrasted, often bizarre, juxtapositions of Phillips’s The Heart of a Humument – which sees him ‘treating’ an obscure late Victorian novel by selecting certain words and phrases, and then painting over the rest of each page – are mirrored in vividly imagined music whose pithy energy creates a playful, virtuoso tour de force for all seven instruments.

Find out more at the NMC website.



‘These compositions show increasing refinement of style and sharpening of dramatic atmosphere… blending forcefulness and economy, subtlety and spontaneity, to beguiling effect… In a movement from Poetry Nearing Silence Anderson pays affectionate tribute to his ‘favourite composer’, Janáček, with just such a highly personal take on the briskly folk-like, avoiding any hint of parody… allusiveness is teasingly specific… but there is never anything remotely laboured about such cross-referencing.’
Gramophone (Arnold Whitall), December 2019


‘[A] scintillating collection of chamber works is aptly titled after Anderson’s Poetry Nearing Silence – while its cover depicts a telling fragment from the Tom Phillips book that inspired it. ‘Unpack / delight / savour / the old / adventure’: in effect, these words embody what Anderson does in music through seven strikingly cogent pieces dating from 1987 to 2015. Stylistically impossible to pigeonhole, each vividly evokes its extra-musical foundations while springing from Anderson's urge to explore the stuff of music. Form and expression, colour and character become adventures in sound and association while at the same time reflecting on what that might mean… The Bearded Lady morphs from knockabout to a lament for mistreated perceived 'others'. Throughout, psychological and musical nuance go hand-in-hand; the parsing of Prayer being to the point in both quiet homage and urgent struggle, thoughtfully re-visited in Another Prayer. The Colour of Pomegranates offers a sensuality extended and quixotically critiqued in Poetry Nearing Silence where, as in Philips's work, what is unsaid serves to underscore the whole.’
BBC Music Magazine (Steph Power), January 2020


‘Concentrated, effective and stimulating. It is great to have such variety within a disc… As the suite [Poetry Nearing Silence] progresses Anderson makes keen use of his resources in concentrated, expressive music that charms and impresses in equal measure.’
Arcana (Ben Hogwood), 18 December 2019


Ondine disc shortlisted for award
Meanwhile, a new disc from Ondine, featuring premiere recordings of Julian Anderson’s Heaven is Shy of Earth and The Comedy of Change has been shortlisted for a Gramophone Award. Susan Bickley joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for the oratorio whilst the London Sinfonietta perform the ballet score. Both works appear in live recordings conducted by the much-missed Oliver Knussen.