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Signum Classics Releases New Recording of Gerald Barry’s Beethoven, Performed by the Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès

May. 01, 2020

Signum Classics Releases New Recording of Gerald Barry’s  Beethoven, Performed by the Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès

In the spring of 2017, Britten Sinfonia launched a three-year Beethoven Symphony Cycle with Thomas Adès as director and conductor. In these performances, Adès interweaved Beethoven’s masterworks with the audacious and sometimes explosive music of Gerald Barry. Last month, Signum Classics released a highly anticipated recording of Thomas Adès and the Britten Sinfonia playing Beethoven and Gerald Barry; specifcally Beethoven’s first three symphonies, interspersed with Barry’s piece Beethoven for bass voice and ensemble, and his Piano Concerto.

Gerald Barry notes:

"The letter to the so-called “Immortal Beloved” is the only real love letter to survive from Ludwig van Beethoven. It’s one of the strangest ever written. It more or less says I love and long for you but it’s not possible. The letter is a confusion of longing and desperation, a cry for forgiveness, that she not abandon him, whatever his inability."

Gerald Barry’s setting of this famous text is among several of his works surrounding the life of Beethoven, whom he deeply admires. Despite the desperate tone of the letter, the music is buoyant and cheerful, with references to Beethoven’s own music.

Written for Nicolas Hodges, Barry’s Piano Concerto displays his characteristic musical zeal and unconventionality. The wind the composer refers to in his description of the work comes in the form of the two wind machines that make up two thirds of the percussion section: the other third is a bass drum.

(Beethoven/Gerald Barry/Britten Sinfonia/Thomas Adès, conductor)

To learn more about Gerald Barry, visit:

Gerald Barry
Beethoven (2008)
for bass voice and ensemble

Piano Concerto (2012)
for piano and orchestra
3(2.pic; 3.pic, afl), b.d, 2wind machines)-str