Pianist and Radio 3 presenter Paul Guinery enchants and delights in his second disc for EM Records, which follows on from the astounding popularity and success of his best-selling ‘Dicky Bird Hop’ (EMR CD064). From the adorable bounciness of ‘Larry the Lamb’, through the lyricism and charm of Quilter’s ‘English Dance’, to the witty syncopations of Madeleine Dring’s ‘Times Change’, this disc is guaranteed to raise the spirits, bring a sigh of happy nostalgic reminiscence and captivate even the most jaded of hearts.


‘Chasing Moonbeams’ (EMR CD077) is now available to purchase by following this link.


EM Records is delighted to present ‘Exploring Spirit’, a disc the central concept of which is the profoundly transformative effect of a questioning, explorative treatment of musical material and the sense of vividness and invigoration that such an approach can bring. The recording is dedicated to the memory of Robert Luck, father of the violinist on the disc, who died the day before the recording sessions began, and whose life personified the questing outlook that ‘Exploring Spirit’ celebrates.


The disc opens with Peter Maxwell Davies’s ‘Sonata for Violin Alone’, a set of 22 variations on a wide-ranging and richly contrasted theme, different variations each exploring certain aspects of the work’s opening minutes. It is followed by the ‘Fantasia on Yorkshire Folk Tunes’ by Richard Pantcheff, a work which uses six folk melodies as its basis, elaborating them in a way that presents them in a new context whilst maintaining their sense of location and identity. These are not simple harmonisations, but arrangements which emphasise the many different facets of the tunes and their words.


The same composer’s ‘Introduction and Allegro’ for violin and cello essentially concerns itself with the interaction of the two instruments’ thematic material, the (occasional) finding of common ground, but also vigorous disagreement. By contrast, the nature of the dialogue between the two instruments in Pantcheff’s ‘Introduction and Allegro no.2" for two violins is rather different from that heard in the first: in this instance, both are recalling past events or experiences, but here they find unity of purpose and finally a sense of mutual support.


Alan Gibbs’s ‘Enigma Duet’ for Violin and Cello forms a quirkier and more whimsical conclusion to the disc. Written to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of two close friends of the composer, it takes as its premise Nemorino’s aria ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ from Donzetti’s ‘L’elisir d’amore’ but cloaks it in a disguise of near-serialism. The instruments’ playful exploration of this theme, the mischievous pleasure they take in transforming and punning on its intervals and contours, and the delight they take in contrasts of dynamic, tessitura and colour make this a wonderfully sparkling close to a recording that speaks of a special and unique quality of the human condition.


We are currently working on a new website for EM Records which we expect to be available later this year. The site will have a responsive design — meaning that it will be easier to use on mobile devices — and will also feature a cleaner layout, improved typography, and a more streamlined purchasing process, including the facility to add a disc to the shopping cart directly from its ‘Details’ page. Naturally, a complete overhaul to the website such as this represents will take time to complete; but, in the meantime, please be assured that the current site will remain in service until the new one is ready.


‘Full of the Highland Humours’ (EMR CD074), the debut recording from award-winning period group Ensemble Hesperi, celebrates the immense success Scottish music enjoyed in eighteenth-century London.


In 1700 the first known collection of Scots Tunes was printed in London by the celebrated music publisher Henry Playford. Ever the savvy advertiser, Playford claimed in the title that the music contained therein was “Full of the Highland Humours”, revealing the stereotypical lens through which many eighteenth-century Londoners saw Scotland. Just as, today, Highland dress has become an emblem of Scotland as a whole, in the 1700s its national music was often symbolically associated with the Highlands, a distant and ‘exotic’ landscape where wild, pathetic melodies could be found. Yet in reality, after the Act of Union in 1707, ambitious Scots arrived in London in droves, bringing the music of their homeland with them, and contributing to an increasingly diverse musical culture in the capital.


Highlights of the disc include rarely recorded works by James Oswald, a highly successful Scottish composer who made London his ‘home from home’ in the 1740s, presented alongside sparkling trio sonatas by Giuseppe Sammartini, a close colleague of Oswald, and by their undeservedly ignored contemporary, Francesco Geminiani, who admired Scottish music so much that his ‘Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick’ featured entirely his own arrangements of popular Scots tunes. listener on a journey to 'North Briton'. Also featured is the music of two other Scottish composers: Thomas Erskine, Sixth Earl of Kellie, a talented aristocrat whose enthusiasm for local music-making in Fife earned him the nickname “Fiddler Tam”, and Robert Bremner, an enterprising Scottish publisher and composer whose influence in London and Edinburgh helped to cement the long-held musical relationship between the capital and Scotland itself.


‘From the Hills of Dream’ (EMR CD073) presents a unique collection of songs by Sir Arnold Bax and featuring 18 songs in four languages, all heard in first recordings; five have never been performed before. Mostly composed during his twenties and thirties, these settings reflect the myriad interests of this enigmatic musical individualist. Bax’s devotion to the spiritual culture, literary tradition and landscapes of the Celtic world is on full display, punctuated by forays into Norse and German mythology as well as French gastronomical farce and folksong.


Almost all of the songs were transcribed from Bax’s manuscripts by Graham Parlett, whose insightful and detailed notes contribute much to the understanding of the composer’s restless musical explorations. Dr Parlett’s good-natured willingness to answer countless emailed queries during the preparation for this recording was invaluable. His unexpected death before the disc could be released has come as a shock to all who knew and admired him, and it is to his memory that this recording is dedicated.


The masque ‘The Vision of Dame Christian’ was composed in 1909 for the girls of St Paul’s Girls’ School (SPGS), of which the composer Gustav Holst was Director of Music; the words were written by the High Mistress at the time, Miss Gray. Dame Christian was the mother of John Colet, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and founder of St Paul’s School. The masque tells of Dame Christian’s vision for the future of her son’s school and the subsequent founding of the Girls’ School. Holst referred to this masque as “the Masque of St Paul’s Girls’ School” and mentioned that "I value this very highly… it contains my best tune — a solemn march.”


The piece has never been recorded, and we consider that, given the inseparable links with SPGS, it should be recorded at the school and should feature the girls themselves. EM Records therefore proposes to make a recording of this work that fulfils these stipulations and with the current Director of Music of SPGS as the conductor. To maintain the very highest artistic standards, we will also be engaging the London Mozart Players. As well as ‘The Vision of Dame Christian’, the disc will include other works strongly associated with SPGS: ‘St Paul’s Suite’, ‘Brook Green Suite’, the ‘Gavotte’ (which Holst withdrew from the ‘Brook Green Suite’), ‘Seven Choruses from the Alcestis of Euripides’ and ‘The Playground Song’.


The costs of making such a recording, however, will be very high, given the engagement of the London Mozart Players, and in order for the production values to meet EM Records’s high standards. We anticipate costs of £18,000 and we urgently need help to enable us to meet these. We are therefore inviting individuals to subscribe to the disc, and we would be hugely grateful to anyone who can help us in this way. Please visit this page for more details, including a list of benefits.


Are you one of our regular supporters, and do you tend to purchase many of our discs? If so, why not sign up as a Foundation Subscriber to EM Records? Foundation Subscribers receive a number of benefits, such as having EM Records discs delivered direct to their door immediately upon release, receiving a pair of free tickets to all EM Records launches and events, and receiving all the benefits due to individual disc subscribers. In return, Foundation Subscribers provide much-needed regular annual income to EM Records, which allows us to plan more securely for the future, as well as the moral support that is important to a small label such as ourselves. A Foundation Subsription costs £120 per year. Visit our online shop to sign up!

Beautifully shaped by Benjamin Frith... Beguiling sounds, graced by the tawny richness and unexaggerated line of Richard Jenkinson’s cello playing... The sense of purpose and sureness of line of Ian Venables’ music is pure oxygen.
Exquisitely rewarding... Ravishing accounts.
This is music of great beauty and integrity and the performances fully do it justice. It would be criminal to let it pass you by.


The Bridge Quartet approach these pieces with a sympathetic and insightful warmth, and confirm their ambassadorial credentials for British chamber music. A lovely, radiant disc.
EMR CD025 | Gramophone
Duncan Honeybourne’s playing is astonishingly affectionate, yet never saccharine... Honeybourne plays with suave confidence.
Rupert Marshall-Luck is an ideal interpreter: generously but not effusively lyrical; agile and athletic... The warm, folk-song like slow movement is at times almost painfully beautiful, with a shimmering pastoral central section... Marshall-Luck is, again, indefatigable and keenly picks up on the work’s melancholic strain.  Finely recorded and with comprehensive booklet notes, this is a must for fans of 20th-century English repertoire.