'Are there still symphonies for the writing? The crisis of confidence among composers is not dissimilar to that of those who dare to paint on canvas. Is the medium still valid? Can it still speak? David Matthews continues to prove that it is, and it can, and persuaded us of the fact in the world premiere of his Fifth Symphony... When he escaped, Thoreau-like, to bosky New England, the creative sap began to rise and the Proms heard a substantial new work. The two qualities that give the music of Matthews its distinctive voice are there: the sense of belonging to the Central European classical tradition – a tonally-grounded, skilfully-balanced structure, even the four traditional movements – and the high, soaring melody and vibrant harmonies of his English mentors, Britten and Tippett.
But this time the flavours are spiced by rhythmic urgency that can burn the tongue and by orchestration whose fresh colour surprises and delights.
With a crackle of colliding brass and percussion, the symphony is fully charged from the start'
The Times (Hilary Finch), 23 August 1999

'David Matthews’s Fifth Symphony, easily the best of the new and recent works I’ve heard at this year’s Proms and very well played. In four movements, scored for a Schubert orchestra plus one percussionist, this composer demonstrated a mastery of his craft in an original and compelling musical work that held my attention throughout. The first movement particularly is magnificent, and the textural use of a ripieno-like String Quartet was but one intriguing feature of the scoring. The constant drum part in the Scherzo could be toned down dynamically, and if at first I thought the final apotheosis was too readily achieved, the sudden and wholly unexpected extended Coda balanced it excellently'
Musical Opinion, Autumn 1999

'David Matthews’s fizzing Fifth Symphony (1998-99), brought to leaping life by Nicholas Cleobury and the Britten Sinfonia. It is a very substantial achievement indeed, one of the best things Matthews has done yet, both in its structural command and in its manner: the scoring has a translucent, lapidary clarity, with much soloistic highlighting of instrumental timbre. The work bursts into instant activity with Tippett-like springing lines in a soundworld of Stravinskian classicality – and then displays an unflagging symphonic energy '
Tempo (Martin Anderson), January 2000