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    Meet the Composers

    Hi everyone! As we move towards the release date of our album 48 Hours we wanted to delve a little deeper into the music and explore the two musicians whose work features on the recording – Thomas Adès and Tullis Rennie. 

    First up we find out more about Thomas Adès…

    Who is Thomas Adès?
    Thomas Adès is an internationally renowned performer, composer and conductor, recognised as one of the world’s greatest contemporary classical musicians. Born in the UK, his music has been performed by leading orchestras and ensembles all over the world, in concert halls, opera houses and arts festivals.

    Adès was described by the New York Times as ‘one of the most accomplished and complete musicians of his generation’. From chamber pieces including his Piano Quintet, to operas and major orchestral works, his music has continued to connect with audiences all over the world since the 1990s. This year, he celebrates his 50th birthday.

    What is his music like?
    Adès has written extensively across a wide spectrum of composition styles and types. Throughout his career to date, he has written over 75 works, for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, opera, ballet, solo voice and instrument, a huge output and achievement across 30 years and counting. Described by The Guardian as making ‘you hear and assess the fundamentals of music all over again’, Adès’ composition deconstructs the traditional tonal structures of music, pushing them in unexpected ways to create new directions and emotional heights.

    He is also in demand as a performer and conductor…
    Originally trained in piano, Adès has worked extensively as a solo performer and conductor. He often conducts premieres of his new works, or performs in them, including the premiere of the Piano Quintet in 2001 with the Arditti Quartet. He has also released recordings featuring his conducting and piano performance, one of which won a Grammy for Best Opera Recording in 2014 for The Tempest.

    48 Hours features the Piano Quintet – what is it like?
    Adès’ single-movement Piano Quintet was commissioned by the Melbourne Festival for the Arditti Quartet in 2001. The quintet is composed for Piano and Strings, its composition near faithfully recreating classical from sonata form though also challenging its traditional structures, reimagining and creatively expanding its possibilities for a contemporary audience. 

    Well-received at its premiere, the Piano Quintet has been variously described as ‘Extraordinarily intricate in rhythm and harmony’ (New York Times) and having ‘the density of a much longer, multi-movement work…there is a liberating effect that sends the music soaring out of any notional neoclassicism into true and original beauty (Sunday Times). 

    Why the Piano Quintet for this project?
    The idea to perform the Piano Quintet was originally born out of a conversation between our Gemma (Gemma Bass) and the wonderful Gemma Wareham from the Berkley Ensemble. Over dinner at a wedding, the Gemmas discussed the piece, how amazing it was, how challenging and particularly the long rehearsal period that it required – 48 hours. This set the ball rolling on what would become the “Adès/Rennie – 48 Hours Project”…

    Right from the start, the idea to create a new piece inspired by the long and challenging rehearsal period was there and we immediately thought of Tullis Rennie. He was quickly invited into the project, the collaboration began and here we are.  

    The Piano Quintet is something special, and in many ways is the most challenging work that we’ve tackled to date, but the more we listened to it and rehearsed it, the more it started to reveal its different facets to us. This, in part, is what you’re listening to when you hear 48 Hours.

    We hope you enjoyed this dip into 48 Hours and the work of Thomas Adès.

    Thanks everyone, take care and we’ll see you soon.


    Written by Liz Wallace and Gemma Bass