Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.
Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.
Beethoven was composed for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in 2008 and even its premise demonstrates Barry’s disregard for the rules. Composed for bass soloist and orchestral ensemble, Beethoven is a setting, a mini-opera perhaps, of Beethoven’s infamous letter to his ‘Immortal Beloved’, a passionate outpouring of love and regret to an unnamed woman, in which Beethoven laments the fact that ‘you are not entirely mine, and I am not entirely yours’. In Barry’s setting, the bass soloist narrates Beethoven’s letter, word for word, in an English translation by Anderson. But while the bass voice could very well be Beethoven’s, Barry makes no attempt to carry this verisimilitude through to the music, which is a far cry from the late classicism of Beethoven’s Vienna. Barry’s music is highly contemporary, hard-edged and flies between extremes. It is also stubbornly defiant (perhaps there are similarities with Beethoven here after all), so that where we expect softness we are met with a barrage of noise, where we expect melancholy we hear seemingly ill-placed comedy. For Barry, this is all about laying bare the conventions and mechanics of composition, and drawing the listener’s attention to gap between the two. As the letter opens, Beethoven’s tone is sombre: ‘My angel, my all, my own self. Only a few words today … what a useless waste of time, why this deep sorrow?’ but Barry’s music is almost comically jaunty. In the soloist’s voice we hear anger and resentment but the accompaniment marches forwards regardless, seemingly indifferent to his melancholy. ‘Can our love endure except through sacrifices?’ Beethoven asks, almost matter-of-factly, without any musical signs of the agony of his predicament. Later, Beethoven changes tack to describe his long and arduous journey to Teplitz (from where he writes), describing in detail the various logistics overcome. Here, Barry too alters the mood, though here he grants far more anguish and chromaticism to the details of the horses, the coach breakdown and their muddy route than that afforded to Beethoven’s words of desperate love and longing. But if Barry’s setting seems to lack empathy, this detachment also makes Beethoven’s words somehow more real. This is not music to idolise and romanticise Beethoven, but music to humanise him, to capture the plain and ugly reality of life made all the more truthful through its banality.
from notes by Jo Kirkbride © 2020
|Beethoven: Symphonies Nos 1, 2 & 3|
These much-anticipated recordings were made during the Britten Sinfonia's three-year Beethoven symphony project. Conductor Thomas Adès interleaves Beethoven’s masterworks with the audacious and sometimes explosive music of the wonderfully idiosync ...» More