Gavin Higgins: Ekstasis

the four works assembled here are engaging and fluently scored….performances are excellent…and productions values are high” Graham Rickson, Arts Desk, February 2022

“Excellent introduction to chamber music by Gavin Higgins that packs a punch...superbly whets the appetite for more” Michael Quinn, Limelight March 2022

the dedication of the performers..and the clarity and immediacy of the recording, are all highly impressive. Those drawn to music whose contemporaneity does not exclude accessibility should certainly investigate” Gramophone, February 2022

in stunning control of his material…From the eerie to the ecstatic, Gavin Higgins’ recent chamber music constantly intrigues and fascinates with its combination of sophisticated instrumental writing and magical textures” ***** Planet Hughill, January 2022

the different works on this album are testament to Higgins’s imaginative, wide-reaching approach to composition. Within each piece there’s a darkness and murkiness. It’s an arresting programme, handled with dexterity and panache by these chamber musicians” BBC Music Magazine, December 2021

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We made most of this recording of recent chamber music for strings by Gavin Higgins in the middle of November 2020 at the Wyastone Concert Hall near Monmouth, on the English/Welsh border. The lockdown was in full force, so it was a slightly strange and rather introspective time.  Hotels were not allowed to open normally, thus on our arrival the owner gave us the keys and said “goodbye, see you in 5 days’ time”.  

We’d brought 2 crates of wine, a coffee machine, and were having food delivered from elsewhere, and when not recording kept ourselves cosy by the open fires. The hotel dates from 1570 and had lots of rooms with heavy oak rafters in the ceiling, creaky floorboards, and space for perhaps 5 times as many visitors as our small party of Gavin Higgins, Raphaël Mouterde our recording maestro, and the musicians – David Cohen, The Piatti Quartet, Sara Roberts, and the Fidelio Trio. On our first evening a freezing fog arrived, and didn’t lift until the end of our stay, making the whole experience very focused, a sentiment reflected in the intensity the musicians bring to the pieces. 

Recording the Seven Welsh Folksongs with Thomas Gould in a church in London in June 2021 could not have been a more different experience – a beautiful sunny day and a world beginning to function a bit more normally outside the windows.

The CD includes a recording of the RTF Commission “Ekstasis” – a string sextet on the theme of Ecstasy.

The Foundation is grateful to the Fidelio Charitable Trust and various anonymous donors for supporting the costs of the recording.