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New Releases


 George Benjamin Conducts

NI5964 Into The Little Hill, Dream of the Song, Flight - Conducted by the Composer

Into The Little Hill is based on the Pied Piper story, allowing audiences an immediate entry point into the opera’s dramaturgy. But Crimp’s re-telling simultaneously updates the story, with its politicians, photographs, and limousines, and opens up further mythic dimensions to the narrative. The drama of Into the Little Hill is concise, clear, and simultaneously ambiguous, even chilling. Benjamin says, ‘Martin’s text is hard-edged, formal, and hyper-condensed’. The reason for its musical and dramatic success is Benjamin’s unerring feeling for expressive characterisation. Each layer of Into the Little Hill’s score is immediately identifiable, from the Crowd’s baying cries of ‘Kill them’ right at the start of the piece, to the rodentine scurrying of the rat’s music, and the Mother’s lamenting grief in the last scene.

Dream of the Song is a mysteriously sensual and sensually strange song-cycle for countertenor, a halo of female voices that are similar in register, but so different in timbre and sound and expression, and orchestra. The counter-tenor sings poems, in English, by Jewish poets of 11th century Andalucia, themselves inspired by Arabic poetry of earlier centuries. There are images of ravishment and wonder here - moonlight, the celestial tent of the sky, a dream of a gazelle, a harp, a flute - but they are always undercut by other ideas. Above all, it’s the gossamer rapier of Benjamin’s music that cuts to the heart of these settings.

Written in his late teens: Flight, for solo flute, whose swooping crests and curlicues are fervently relished in Michael Cox’s performance. Benjamin describes the piece as ‘inspired by the sight of birds soaring and dipping over the peaks of the Swiss Alps’.  Listening to the piece you’ll hear a panoply of songs surfing the musical thermals in the alpine ether: low, long-breathed cries and calls, filigree flocks of ornamentation in the atmospheric heights of the flute’s register, a chorus of vapours conjured by a single instrument.


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From the Catalogue


Emma Johnson, John Lenehan & Paul Clarvis perform Wang Wang Blues

Her playing style is very clean. She allows herself to swing, use blue notes, scoops and slides and some vibrato, which is never excessive except perhaps in Bechet’s Petite Fleur. She is always in tune and neither squawks nor honks. There are no duff notes, heavy breathing or clatter of keywork. I must include her collaborators in this general praise. The pianist John Lenehan, who has recorded such serious things with her as the Brahms sonatas, really gets into the spirit of this project with some splendidly enthusiastic and virtuosic solos. Percussionist Paul Clavis has some very nice touches, and I greatly enjoyed his contributions to Debussy’s Golliwog’s Cakewalk.  Musicweb International


Emma Johnson plays 24 short pieces to represent the melting pot of musical genres, including jazz, which occurred around the turn of the 20th century.  It's an entertaining and wide-ranging selection taking in Gershwin, Ravel, Joplin, Berecht, Copland and a number of venerable jazz standards... The playing by all concerned is, of course, immaculate" Dave Gelly To see other recordings by Emma Johnson, click here

BBC Radio 3 Broadcast Monday 24th April at 3.45pm
Penny Gore presents a week of performances from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, including recent concerts and new studio recordings. Today features a new recording of the Symphony No.1 by the Anglo-Dutch composer Bernard van Dieren, scored for soloists, chorus and orchestra, and based on the same source material as Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.

It was always more talked about than heard – that’s the way with van Dieren – but such a sumptuous and convincing performance as this encourages thoughts about the so-called Chinese Symphony which sets words from Die chineische Flöte, Chinese poetry translated by Hans Bethge. The link with Mahler, who was similarly inspired by it, is unavoidable. The orchestral tapestry is deft and often delicately spun, and the vocal writing is often explicitly Delian. The five soloists acquit themselves with distinction and the chorus, a character in its own right, poetically and musically, is a vital component of the success of the performance. Above all the orchestral forces are on top form, outstandingly marshalled by William Boughton. Musicweb

Vladimir Feltsman - JS Bach
Two-part inventions and three-part sinfonias recorded 17 years apart in very different acoustics.  But Feltsman brings a tonal richness and a pleasing sense of line to these miraculous minatures.
OC, BBC Music Magazine

To see other recordings by Vladimir Feltsman, click here

Eyvind Alnæs Sym Nos. 1 & 2
...Each of the movements develops in unexpected ways, showing influences from Sibelius in a manner that will bring to British listeners the symphonies of Bax and Moeran (this is not to suggest ‘influence’ but merely to give some impression of the style that Alnæs adopts). The slow movement is again a highlight in its emotional charge, and one reads with amazement... The works themselves would clearly admit of a variety of interpretations... Those – and they are many – who relish the discovery of new symphonic music from the twentieth century need not hesitate. This is a disc I certainly will be playing again, many times. Musicweb International


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