Press Release

For press enquiries please contact matthew.trusler@orchidclassics.com. Tel: +44 7717 663481

Schubert Reimagined

Josephine Knight, cello
The Gesualdo Six

Simon Crawford-Phillips, piano
Timothy Jones, horn

Catalogue Number: ORC100302

Release Date: May 17th

Click the button above to download all album assets.

“Schubert Reimagined” is a unique new album revitalising the music of Franz Schubert, featuring renowned cellist Josephine Knight, alongside the highly-sought-after vocal group The Gesualdo Six, pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips and Timothy Jones on horn.

SCHUBERT REIMAGINED
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

1 Wo? (Heinrich Heine)
String Quintet in C major, D.956, Adagio
Arranged by Simon Parkin for cello and vocal consort

From Winterreise, D.911 (Wilhelm Müller)
2 Der Lindenbaum
3 Das Wirtshaus
4 Die Post
Arranged by Professor Timothy Jones for cello, horn and piano

From Schwanengesang, D.957 (Heinrich Heine)
5 Der Doppelgänger
Arranged by Professor Timothy Jones for cello and piano

Sonata for cello and piano in A minor “Arpeggione”, D.82
6 I Allegro moderato
7 II Adagio
8 III Allegretto
9 Die Nacht, D.983C (Friedrich Adolph Krummacher)
Arranged by Simon Parkin for cello and vocal consort

Josephine Knight, cello
Simon Crawford-Phillips, piano
The Gesualdo Six
Timothy Jones, horn

This album is very important to me on many levels: passionate about the cello, music, collaborating and sharing, this album represents everything that I love.
“Song” and “singing” are at the very heart of what I feel is the most important element connecting all performers to their audiences and listeners. The singing quality within each of our individual sounds is key to communicating, and it is something I focus on in my own playing since sound is the most powerful tool we have as performers. The cello and horn are often considered to be as close to the human voice as almost any other instrument, therefore this combination is a natural partnership.
As well as carefully selecting a handful of songs which have been arranged by Scholar Professor Timothy Jones for both cello, horn and piano and cello and piano, I wanted to mirror this idea and take the slow movement from one of Schubert’s most iconic works (thought to be the last chamber piece he wrote) the great C major string quintet known as the “‘Cello Quintet”, scored for string quartet plus an extra cello, and perform this with cello and the acclaimed all-male British vocal consort, The Gesualdo Six. It is a work I have played numerous times and this magnificent slow movement was something I kept hearing “sung”: the timelessly sustained opening as if bowed, with the dotted calling motif now played on the cello. In Simon Parkin’s beautiful, reimagined version, he takes inspiration from the Heinrich Heine poem “Wo wird einst”. Just as the C major Quintet is a momentous work for string players, “Die Nacht” is one of Schubert’s most famous songs, so to be part of this vocal group’s exquisite sonority was extremely special.
I have also included the “Arpeggione” Sonata on this disc (originally written for a six stringed instrument called the ‘Arpeggione’) as it is such an important core repertoire piece for cellists, and one which demonstrates the full range and beauty that can be achieved on the cello. My ultimate wish for this album is that the listener should become unaware as to whether they are hearing singers or instrumentalists as both amalgamate, allowing the beauty of the music of Schubert, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, to transport us and connect us through the power of music itself.

Josephine Knight

 

In 1827, the year of Beethoven’s death, the German writer Heinrich Heine published a new volume of poetry he called Buch der Lieder. How could a book of printed texts count as Lieder – as songs? The answer lies in the lyrical quality of Heine’s verse, and the contemporary obsession with the idea of folksong – the seamless blending of text and tune, heartfelt emotion and simplicity, that allowed for an intimate personal engagement between speakers, singers and listeners. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, as towns and cities grew ever bigger and more technologically complex, the idealistic beauty of these songs made them hugely popular among the urban middle and upper classes.
Just as poems could be songs, so too could instrumentalists ‘sing’. Attempting to achieve a passable imitation of the human singing voice was often stated as the goal of instrumental pedagogues; and since concerts were a scarce and expensive commodity, it was common practice to perform music at home in arrangements to suit the assembled company. String quartets might become piano duets; songs and choral pieces may be transformed into ensembles for flutes, violins, viola and cello or vice versa. And composers were pragmatic enough to know that their works had meaning and value in arrangements as well as in ‘authentic’ versions as first conceived.
Which is why it seems quite likely that Franz Schubert would have wholly recognised the impulse to perform his music in arrangements, as we hear a number on this disc. The programme unites a practical ‘arrangement’ by Schubert himself with a series of brand-new arrangements by Simon Parkin and Timothy Jones (scholar and editor, who shares his name with the horn soloist in this project!), specially commissioned by cellist Josephine Knight. It is the perfect opportunity, as Knight explains, to hear these familiar pieces anew through musical reimagining: her vision of ‘singing’ Schubert finally realised.
Jones’s rendering of three songs from Winterreise and one of Schwanengesang for horn, cello and piano skilfully adapt not only the sung melodies, but also certain details and gestures of the piano accompaniment for instrumental emphasis. We hear the fluttering leaves of ‘Der Lindenbaum’ and the fanfare of the post-horn in ‘Die Post’ – moments of optimism and happy memories to the wandering protagonist of Winterreise, in each case dashed by the realisation that this heartbroken young man can expect no more contact with the woman who has forsaken him. The deathly tempting stillness of ‘Das Wirtshaus’ – not a true inn, but a graveyard, the poem tells us – is particularly affecting in the mellow tenor registers of horn and cello. The poet of Winterreise, Wilhelm Müller, was a great inspiration to Heinrich Heine; and it is Heine’s spine-chilling ‘Der Doppelgänger’ that completes this group. Here, the cello adopts Schubert’s vocal line directly. It is a particularly compelling example of the power of this instrument to ‘speak’, as we hear the wordless narration of a man observing his own shadow watching the house of a long-departed lover.
These songs all date from the final years of Schubert’s life: Winterreise was completed in late 1827, and ‘Der Doppelgänger’ (taken from Heine’s newly published Buch der Lieder) was printed a few months after Schubert’s death in November 1828. The so-called ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata is several years earlier, written as a showpiece for a new hybrid instrument. The Viennese instrument builder Johann Georg Staufer invented the arpeggione – a six-stringed bowed guitar with frets – in the spring of 1823, and both Staufer himself and Vincenz Schuster (the instrument’s chief performer) made themselves known to Schubert later that year with the aim of commissioning a showpiece from him. Unfortunately, the bright and glorious future of the arpeggione as imagined by Staufer and Schuster never came to pass, and the work that Schubert composed was not published until 1871, when it was issued with a joint designation of ‘für Arpeggione oder Violoncello’. Signs of the unusual instrument’s demise are clearly apparent in this printed score, which contained an explanation of what an arpeggione was and how it worked – which seems particularly ironic since the name ‘arpeggione’ was only broadly applied to the instrument because of Schubert’s sonata.
The nature of the Arpeggione Sonata suggests that Schubert himself was quite aware of just how unlikely it was that the instrument would become a household name: although he does make the occasional nod to its unique abilities of playing chords and extensive arpeggios, the material is almost all perfectly playable on a standard cello. This canny writing on Schubert’s part has enabled cellists to enjoy performing the solo sonata by a composer who wrote no other such repertoire for the instrument.
The male-voice partsong Die Nacht was probably written in 1822, the year before Staufer invented his arpeggione, and was one of four pieces for two tenors and two basses that were published the following year for this increasingly popular ensemble grouping. Simon Parkin’s arrangement drapes a sinuous cello line around Schubert’s part-writing, beautifully capturing the ‘heavenly calm’ of Friedrich Krummacher’s poem.
The most striking arrangement on this disc is the first piece we hear. Knight commissioned Parkin to add not strings to a vocal piece, but voices to one of Schubert’s most famous string compositions. The String Quintet in C major was written in the autumn of 1828, just a few month before the composer’s death in November at the age of 31. It is ideally suited for its players (two violinists, one violist, two cellists)… but here we hear it reimagined for two countertenors, two tenors, baritone, bass and cello. That Schubert was a song-writer par excellence is not in question – but in Parkin’s arrangement, the songfulness of the Quintet’s slow movement is immediately writ large, the cello pulsing below as the voices unfold a setting of Heine’s Wo?: ‘Wo wird einst des Wandermüden’ (‘Where shall the weary traveller / Find his final resting place?’). That it is possible to maintain this sense of both lyricism and clear articulation in the restless middle section is a testament to the quality of our singers, who lead us through thickets of brooding minor-key harmonies and onwards to the limpid stillness of the closing few minutes of the movement.

© Katy Hamilton

“Schubert Reimagined,” is a unique new album revitalising the music of Franz Schubert, featuring renowned cellist Josephine Knight, alongside the highly-sought-after vocal group The Gesualdo Six, pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips and Timothy Jones on horn.

The carefully curated repertoire includes the slow movement from Schubert’s poignant String Quintet D.956, arranged for cello and The Gesualdo Six; the expressive Sonata for cello and piano in A minor ‘Arpeggione’ D. 821; and captivating Schubert songs delivered through innovative arrangements by Timothy Jones.

The album showcases the unique blend of cello and horn, instruments with close proximity to the textures of the human voice, providing a natural musical partnership. With a special rendition of the iconic C major string quintet’s slow movement, “Wo?”, featuring The Gesualdo Six, along with other masterpieces, Josephine Knight weaves a narrative that transcends traditional boundaries, creating a seamless amalgamation of singers and instrumentalists.

 

Josephine Knight
Cello

British cellist Josephine Knight appears as a soloist and chamber musician performing in the world’s most renowned concert halls. A BBC Proms concerto soloist, Josephine has also performed as a soloist with major orchestras throughout the U.K. and abroad working with distinguished conductors such as; Sir Colin Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Richard Hickox, Paavo Järvi, Andris Nelsons, Sir Antonio Pappano and Vasily Petrenko. Josephine has recorded for EMI Classics, Deutsche Gramophone, Chandos, Dutton and Orchid Classics. Following the success of her recording of John Tavener’s ‘The Protecting Veil’ which reached the Top Ten in the Classical Music Charts, Josephine subsequently gave the World Premiere and ‘live’ EMI recording of ‘Requiem’ by Sir John Tavener with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. More diverse collaborations have included recording with Nigel Kennedy, Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Madonna.

Josephine regularly performs with Daniel Hope and Simon Crawford-Phillips, and she has collaborated with; Pinchas Zukerman, Maxim Vengerov, David Finckel, Wu Han, Menahem Pressler, the Emerson and Takács Quartets. Josephine has made regular appearances at festivals such as: Aldeburgh, Beethoven, Bath, Cheltenham, Gstaad, Porto, Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Salzburg, Schloss Elmau, Savannah, Stavanger, and London’s Wigmore Hall.

Unanimously elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London where she holds the Alfredo Piatti International Chair of Cello and is Professor of Cello, Josephine is much in demand as a teacher/director and giving masterclasses worldwide.

Josephine’s edition of Schumann’s Concerto (Concertstück) for cello and orchestra is the first ever published publication of the original version by Edition Peters.

Josephine plays on a 1728 Johannes Guidantus.

 

Simon Crawford-Phillips
Piano

Simon Crawford-Phillips has built a unique career as a pianist, conductor and creative programmer. Passionate about contemporary music Simon has given world premieres of music by Thomas Adès, Britta Byström, Helen Grime, Steve Reich and Mark-Anthony Turnage amongst others.

He has held positions as Chief Conductor of Västerås Sinfonietta and Conductor Fellow of the NDR Elbphilharmonie and in 2023 made a critically acclaimed debut with the Stockholm Royal Opera conducting Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Other upcoming debuts include the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

As pianist in the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, Nash Ensemble, Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble and Colin Currie Group he has performed worldwide and made several recordings for BIS, Hyperion and Deutsche Grammophon.

Regular collaborators include Daniel Hope, Josephine Knight, Pekka Kuusisto, Anne Sofie von Otter, Lawrence Power, Torleif Thedéen, the Elias String Quartet and Academy of St.Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble. Many of these have performed with Simon in his role as artistic director of the ‘Change Music Festival’ and co-director of the ‘Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival’.

An avid teacher he has held positions at the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and was recently awarded a Professorship at the Mälardalen University in Västerås, Sweden.

www.simoncrawford-phillips.com

The Gesualdo Six

The Gesualdo Six is an award-winning British vocal ensemble comprising some of the UK’s finest consort singers, directed by Owain Park. Praised for their imaginative programming and impeccable blend, the group formed in 2014 for a performance of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories in Cambridge and has gone on to perform at numerous major festivals around the world.

Notable highlights include a concert in the distinguished Deutschlandradio Debut Series, performances at renowned venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Miller Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, and their debut at the BBC Proms in 2023. The Gesualdo Six have collaborated with Fretwork, the Brodsky Quartet, and Matilda Lloyd, and tour a work of concert-theatre titled Secret Byrd with Director, Bill Barclay. The group have harnessed the power of social media to make classical music accessible to millions worldwide, creating captivating videos from beautiful locations while on tour.

The Gesualdo Six is committed to music education, regularly hosting workshops for young musicians and composers. The ensemble have curated two Composition Competitions, with the most recent edition drawing entries from over three hundred composers worldwide. The group recently commissioned new works from Shruthi Rajasekar and Joanna Marsh, alongside coronasolfège for 6 by Héloïse Werner.

 
Timothy Jones
Horn

Timothy Jones is one of the most sought-after horn players of his generation. He is Principal Horn of the London Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held for almost 40 years.

Having started playing the horn at the age of 15, 3 years later at the age of 18, Timothy won his first major position in the Munich Philharmonic. Throughout his career he has worked with some of the most distinguished conductors of our time including; Sergiu Celibidache, Rafael Kublik, Carlos Kleiber, George Solti, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Bernard Haitink, Klaus Tennstedt, Gustavo Dudumel, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Antonio Pappano.

Timothy has regularly appeared as solo horn with many of the world’s greatest orchestras including; the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and he has performed at prestigious venues and Festivals worldwide.

His recording of the Kenneth Fuchs Horn Concerto premiered and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, was nominated for a Grammy Award and his Mozart Horn Concerto recording released on LSO ‘Live’, reached critical acclaim.

An active chamber musician Timothy has collaborated with André Previn, Christoph Eschenbach, Heinz Holliger, Martha Argerich, Gil Shaham and Yuri Bashmet.

Timothy is Professor of Horn at the Royal College of Music and is Director and co-owner of the renowned British horn company, PAXMAN Musical Instruments Limited.

Click the button above to download all album assets.