Just ten or fifteen years ago, the idea that two pieces might be enough to fill an album of Howard Skemptons music would have seemed astonishing, but here are two works, each over 30 minutes long. Skempton takes on Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and presents it sparsely for solo baritone (Roderick Williams) and small chamber ensemble (BCMG).
"Sleepless Nights" is the debut album by David Wenngren, however not the first album he's been involved in. He's been releasing music with various other projects and is perhaps most known for his work with Library Tapes. The nine songs of this album were all recorded during late nights and early mornings at a time when Wenngren went through a brief period of insomnia. The music is not that different than his work with Library Tapes but has a more experimental feel to it and Wenngren is putting more focus on strings and computer processing than piano this time, however there's a couple of stunningly beautiful solo piano songs on the album as well.
This performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is sung in English and played on modern instrument. If that bothers you, don't bother checking out this recording. If it doesn't bother you, and you like the idea of a heartrending, awe-inspiring, and profoundly moving performance of Bach's sacred dramatic masterpiece, by all means, try this recording. David Willcocks, the dean of English choral conductors, leads the combined forces of the Bach Choir, the Boys' Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Thames Chamber Orchestra along with six A-list British soloists in a deeply human, intensely spiritual, and amazingly dramatic performance of the work.