Gavin Higgins: Ekstasis

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

We made most of this recording 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.