Emily Howard: TORUS | New Release on NMC Recordings

Professor Emily Howard’s new portrait album ‘Torus’ is released on NMC Recordings on 28 April 2023

Emily Howard: Torus | NMC Recordings (details here)

Following on from her critically acclaimed debut portrait disc Magnetite (released by NMC in 2016), Howard’s new album centres around her recent Orchestral Geometries series exploring “internalised shape-energies”.

“This album is a really important milestone for me. It brings together mathematics and music in ways that I have been thinking about for over a decade of my life. It really is the product of thousands of hours of my time and I’m excited to share it with the world.”

“There are many people and organisations who have helped to bring this album to life and I’m hugely grateful to all of them. They include NMC Recordings, Edition Peters and Research England; the commissioners of Torus (BBC Proms and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic), sphere (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra), Antisphere (Barbican Centre for Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra) and Compass (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group); the many mathematicians and PRiSM colleagues for their stimulating and ongoing conversations; and the RNCM for its significant support over my 20 years of association with the College.”

A heartfelt thanks to each of the brilliant ensembles and conductors featured on this album for the excellent recordings and performances: BBC Philharmonic and Vimbayi Kaziboni (Antisphere); BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Mark Wigglesworth (sphere); Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Julian Warbuton and Gabrielle Teychenné (Compass) and BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins (Torus).”

— Professor Emily Howard (Director RNCM PRiSM)

Image © 2023 Lorraine Macfarlin
Catalogue no: NMC D274
Release date: 28 April 2023

All four [works] are charged with structural tension and packed with dramatic flourishes… [Howard’s] compositions are taut and suspenseful in their development, robustly delineated and often edgy, even rugged in character […] energetic impact and imaginative breadth.— The Wire

A warping and melting of harmony and rhythm, in which intervals collapse into one another, in which time is shrunk and stretched, and in which extremes of density and quietness create a friction that’s expressive and geometric. — BBC Radio 3 New Music Show

[Emily Howard is] established among the most distinctive while forward-looking composers of her generation, heard in scrupulous performances by a notable line-up of British orchestras and ensembles […] This impressive release reinforces Howard’s significance in no uncertain terms. Arcana

The album features four distinctive works, each with an abstract mathematical shape as its imaginary cornerstone:

Torus (2016), a BBC Proms co-commission with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the work that gives the album its title was the winner of a 2017 British Composer Awards (Orchestral Category). It was praised as “visionary” by The Times, as well as “one of this year’s finest new works” in The Guardian Critics’ Highlights Proms 2016.

sphere (2017) is a musical meditation on the encounters of “different landscapes” whilst “travelling across the surface of a sphere”, eliciting multi-dimensional imaginations of the Earth-like shape and its many geometrical variants, which are often impossible to visualise.

Antisphere (2019) was commissioned by the Barbican Centre for Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra. Conveying Howard’s vivid imagination of the ‘platonic ideal’ of a negatively curved “anti-spherical” shape, the work has been described as “sensual – yet diffuse” by The Times, as well as “a harmony of the spheres for our times” by The Classical Source.

Compass (2022), composed for string septet and solo percussionist, is conceived as a synthesis and evolution of the Orchestral Geometries series, to a certain extent symbolising a new chapter in Howard’s body of work.

Production Info

1. Antisphere

BBC Philharmonic conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni

Recorded by the BBC at The Bridgewater Hall on 29 October 2022
Stephen Rinker – Recording Engineer
Matthew Bennett – Producer

2. sphere

BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Mark Wigglesworth

Recorded by the BBC at Aldeburgh Festival on 23 June 2018 and first broadcast on 2 July 2018 on BBC Radio 3
Stephen Rinker – Recording Engineer
Dean Craven – Producer

3. Compass

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (solo percussionist Julian Warburton) conducted by Gabriella Teychenné

Recorded at the Royal Northern College of Music on 4 December 2022
David Lefeber – Recording Engineer & Producer

4. Torus

BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins

Recorded by the BBC at Barbican Hall on 1 November 2019 and first broadcast on 11 November 2019 on BBC Radio 3
Christopher Rouse – Recording Engineer
Ann McKay – Producer

David Lefeber – Mastering

This album is supported by PRiSM, The RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music, funded by the Research England fund Expanding Excellence in England (E3).