09 December, 2017
Some great reviews so far:
“A highly pleasing collection of his orchestral works. With the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Jean-Claude Picard, the drama of the landscape is expertly envisioned, bringing to life the score's elements of seascape, natural environment and extraordinary location. Staffa is an album very much worth stopping to listen to.”
**** Carol Main, The List
“Hugely enjoyable, brilliantly orchestrated and performed… post minimalist abounding with good tunes , tightly constructed wonderfully accessible…Dance inspired Western music for centuries and it is wonderful to have a composer once again embracing dance forms in concert music…Without the images [the title piece] proves itself every bit a successful standalone concert work…the music expertly takes is us on an aural journey around the island, the immoveable rocks and caves, the ever changing sea and sky and the swooping birdlife. Bigham has a remarkable gift for orchestral colour and the RSNO under Jean Claude Picard clearly relish bringing the score to life. It is so refreshing to hear a disc by a British composer who is not afraid to write work for an audience to engage with. Britten who was so keen that his music should be ‘useful’ would be proud.”
Paul Jackson, British Music Society
“On any level Ned Bigham’s orchestral work is appealing to the ear, deftly sculpted and rich in topographical and philosophical suggestion…Bigham is clearly an accomplished arranger. To quote Bigham himself: “As a composer I am aiming to transport the listener into a different world and the islands in these titles are intended as metaphors for that escape. Visiting a small or exotic island, whether real or imaginary (and all the titles are in fact real islands), can offer a kind of isolation from the outside world, my intention is that the music might work in a similar way.” It is difficult for a listener to argue that Bigham has not convincingly achieved these goals.
Bigham’s ear for colour works its magic again in Staffa [title piece]. The use of variation throughout successfully evokes the changes in shade and sound experienced on the island as the day proceeds. Staffa is a splendid piece which instantly conveys both the marine spirit and the enchantment of Fingal’s Cave. The disc as a whole, then, introduces a really enjoyable sequence of short works which provoke an authentic sense of island experience. On these two Aruna albums, Ned Bigham has quietly established himself as a master of the short orchestral tone poem.”
Richard Hanlon, Music Web International
29 September, 2017
Staffa has now been in the Specialist Classical charts for two weeks, achieving 13 in the first week and 23 the second, amidst tough competition from the likes of Bach, Mozart and Schubert (the highest entry by a living composer). It was chosen as pick of the Edinburgh Festival on BBC Radio Scotland's Classics Unwrapped programme, opening the show last week.
08 September, 2017
Featuring the Royal Scottish Orchestra and Jean-Claude Picard, today sees the release of Staffa. Please see promo trailer on the right.
If you would like to buy a copy from Amazon please follow this link or from Presto Classical please click here or to buy from iTunes click here. Thanks for your support.
Here is the press release:
STAFFA – THE SPIRIT OF FINGAL’S CAVE FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Staffa is the much anticipated collection of new orchestral works by acclaimed composer Ned Bigham. Building on the success of his first album of orchestral works Culebra, which reached no. 11 in the Specialist Classical Charts in 2014, Staffa looks set to solidify Bigham’s reputation as an artist whose tuneful music is accessible to a wide audience whilst having real compositional depth.
‘…his natural melodic writing immediately communicates and frequently moves the listener.’
Gramophone, Ivan March
The title piece, for orchestra and three large screens, was created in collaboration with BAFTA and Grierson award-winning visual artist Gerry Fox, and was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, at the 70th Anniversary Celebration Concert of the Edinburgh International Festival on 27 August and broadcast afterwards on Radio 3. Supported by Creative Scotland, Staffa also ran as a three-screen installation, with quadraphonic recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, at the National Library of Scotland from 17-27 August, and drew crowds in excess of four thousand over the period. It has appeared in interviews/features on Radio 3 In Tune, Radio Scotland and Scottish TV among others.
Scored for full symphony orchestra, celeste and two harps, Staffa dramatically evokes the fleeting moods of the Inner Hebridean island’s elemental location, with the marriage between sound and image unique and magical. Gerry Fox’s visuals pay homage to Mendelssohn's famous 1829 visit to its haunting Fingal's Cave by exploring the unique hexagonal, basalt column formations of the interior and its surroundings. Whilst inspired by Mendelssohn’s journey, Ned’s music is new and ground-breaking.
Ned Bigham said: “Composing music across three different atmospheres which are projected simultaneously has been a great challenge. Both Gerry and I have strived to create a narrative which draws the audience in and captures the enigmatic aura of the island.”
“Congratulations on a great piece of work”
- Jamie MacDougall, Classics Unwrapped, BBC Radio Scotland
The other works on the disc complement Staffa (in its stereo version) and demonstrate Bigham’s playful way with existing forms. The two sets of Archipelago Dances whisk the listener off to Bigham’s imagined islands in these vivid orchestral tone poems. Halmahera is scored for two pianos and orchestra, with the canonic piano parts delightfully performed by Lynda Cochrane and Judith Keaney. The irresistible Tegua takes the polka form as its starting point. The Two Nightscapes are mysterious and haunting, with the glorious harp writing in Serenade performed by Pippa Tunnell.