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A 5CD set collecting the first five albums released by the celebrated Factory Classical imprint in 1989.
Curated by Durutti Column viola player John Metcalfe and including modern classical works composed by Benjamin Britten, Elliott Carter, Paul Hindemith, Theodore Lalliet, Gyorgy Ligeti, Steve Martland, Olivier Messiaen, Francis Poulenc, Dmitri Shostakovich and Michael Tippett, the music was re-mastered in 2022 by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works.
The clamshell box includes a 24 page booklet featuring the original Factory commissioned liner notes from 1989, as well as a contemporary essay by writer Stuart Huggett and an interview with Tony Wilson.
Each individual CD is housed in a card wallet which reproduces the original artwork by designers Peter Saville, Trevor Key, Ben Kelly, Mark Farrow, Neville Brody and Trevor Johnson.
The performers include the Kreisler String Orchestra, pianist Rolf Hind, The Duke Quartet and oboist Robin Williams, with Steve Martland’s material performed by Residentie Orkest Den Haag and pianists Gerard Bouwhuis and Cees Van Zeeland.
Explained Factory founder Tony Wilson: ‘The idea I had in mind was people like Peter Saville, the Factory designer, and his girlfriend - art school kids brought up with Bowie and Roxy Music, into punk, maybe they find acid house interesting, but they’re looking for something else. For people like them or younger, there is no easy way into classical music, because it’s all quite exclusive. They’re scarcely likely to read Gramophone magazine, or make head or tail of it if they did.’
‘I was a relatively angry young man at that time,’ adds Metcalfe, ‘and chose to channel some of that into a rather naïve disapproval of standard classical industry practices. The white tie and tails and very, very boring, reproductions of Constable paintings on album covers, all that stuff. So I had a chat with Tony and he said, “Off you go, fill your boots”.’
Largely drowned out by relentless Acid House beats and faddish Madchester guitar rock in 1989, the bold, contrarian Factory Classical catalogue is now ripe for re-appraisal by much the same audience identified by Wilson. Indeed since 1989 Metcalfe has worked as an arranger for artists such as Peter Gabriel, U2, Blur, Coldplay and Bat for Lashes, as well as performing and recording with the Max Richter Ensemble. Sadly contemporary composer Steve Martland passed away in 2013.
CD1 Kriesler String Orchestra 226
1-4. Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony
5. Zoltan Eric: Cartoon
6-16. Benjamin Britten: Frank Bridge Variations
17. Johannes Brahms: Wir Wandelten
CD2 Robin Williams 236
1-3. Francis Poulenc: Sonata
4-9. Benjamin Britten: Six Metamorphoses
10-11. Paul Hindemith: Sonata
12. Theodore Lalliet: Prelude and Variations
CD3 Duke String Quartet 246
1-5. Dimitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 Opus 110
6-10. Michael Tippett: String Quartet No. 3
CD4 Rolf Hind 256
1-6. Gyorgy Ligeti: Etudes Book 1
7. Steve Martland: Kgakala
8. Olivier Messiaen Le courlis cendre
9-10. Elliott Carter: Piano Sonata 9
CD5 Steve Martland 266
1-5. Steve Martland: Babi Yar
6-11. Steve Martland: Drill