I am Kriss Russman, a conductor and composer, and I'm asking for your help to make a landmark CD of the first ever complete recordings of orchestral music by the renowned British composer George Butterworth with the superb BBC National Orchestra of Wales, internationally acclaimed baritone James Rutherford and the award-winning record company BIS Records.
WHO IS GEORGE BUTTERWORTH?
Butterworth was a brilliant young composer who was one of the great hopes for British music. The few pieces he composed - including the Rhapsody: A Shropshire Lad, the Idyll: The Banks of Green Willow and Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad' - are masterpieces and have remained popular since they were first performed. Tragically, he was killed in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme on 5th August 1916, aged just 31. Extremely modest and much admired, he was awarded the Military Cross twice for his bravery. Next year will be the centenary of his death.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PROJECT?
The CD will include three world premiere recordings of Butterworth's music. One is the completion of a recently discovered 92-bar fragment of a work that Butterworth left unfinished before going to war. It is remarkable that the piece has survived at all as Butterworth destroyed much of his music before leaving for the trenches. It is called Orchestral Fantasia and was brought to my attention by Butterworth's biographer Anthony Murphy. The fragment is very different in style from Butterworth's other music and includes the longest, and possibly the finest, melody that he composed. There are no surviving sketches for the work and, through an in-depth anaylsis of Butterworth's musical language, I have extended this three-minute fragment to nearly nine minutes, similar in length to the composer's other works. It will be given its public world premiere by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under Martyn Brabbins, in Glasgow on 19th November this year. I will conduct the world premiere recording of the piece on this CD. I have also orchestrated Butterworth's Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad' for voice and piano and arranged the composer's virtually unknown Suite for String Quartet, with its deeply moving slow movement, for string orchestra. These three recording premieres will sit alongside Butterworth's other well-known orchestral pieces on the CD as well as the composer's only song-cycle for voice and orchestra, Love blows as the wind blows.
WHY I NEED YOUR HELP
With the forthcoming centenary of Butterworth's death and the Battle of the Somme, there is no better opportunity to celebrate the musical vision of one of Britain's finest composers and reflect upon both the human and cultural tragedy of war. Your support allows this recording to be produced to the highest standards with an internationally acclaimed orchestra and soloist and a world-renowned record company. It will not only revive Butterworth's musical legacy, but also allow music that has lain dormant for more than 100 years to finally be heard.
Butterworth photographs courtesy of Anthea Ionides.