Raymond Yiu: The World Was Once All Miracle

Resident in the UK since his late teens, Hong Kong-born composer Raymond Yiu has over the last twenty years developed a sophisticated yet defiantly eclectic style, heard to its best advantage here on his debut portrait disc, with an all-star line-up of performers.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra – appearing for the first time on Delphian – is joined by baritone Roderick Williams in a song-cycle specially commissioned to mark the centenary of the writer Anthony Burgess, while Andrew Watts’ countertenor voice brings an unforgettable human dimension to Symphony, written for the BBC Proms. Questions of identity, disguise and belonging are never far below the surface in Yiu’s music, whose playful surface has profound truths to tell about a life lived between continents.

"This first full-length recording of the Hong Kong-born composer’s orchestral music grabs you by the scruff of the neck, then goes on to reveal new beauties on each hearing: in The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured (2013), Yiu gives us a vivid, teeming urban soundscape to rival Elgar’s Cockaigne, and his settings of poets as diverse as John Donne, Constantine P. Cavafy and Thom Gunn in the 2015 Symphony respond so imaginatively to the texts, as does Andrew Watts’s crystal-clear countertenor"


"Three works by Raymond Yiu highlight his instinctive originality, in evocative instrumental writing that is part game, part travelogue ... fresh, totally original and hugely impressive"

★ ★ ★ ★

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"the enterprising Delphian label has put together a substantial programme of high-quality radio recordings, meticulously re-edited, with valuable booklet notes by John Fallas and Paul Griffiths. The result leaves no doubt whatever that Yiu is a composer with plenty to say and refreshingly direct, uninhibited ways of saying it"

"I find it safe to say that Raymond Yiu’s new portrait album on Delphian Records, The World Was Once All Miracle, will be a strong candidate in the contest for the recording of the year, as far as contemporary music releases are concerned ... An album of delights, The World Was Once All Miracle presents us with one of the most imaginative and talented composers of our time, with impeccable craft and gorgeous visions"

AIM Adventures in Music

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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"Three works, given live under different conductors, composed by the Hong Kong-born, London-resident Yiu during the past decade. The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured is, perhaps, a search for a belonging, while the title piece, settings of elusive Anthony Burgess poems, and Symphony address matters of life, love and death with confident eloquence. The BBC Symphony Orchestra plays superbly"

"Yiu is an outstanding and distinctive voice in British music – all the more so for his Asian origins, which throw up issues of identity that he explores productively as well as playfully in what he writes"

"Outstanding ... The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured (2012), is a scintillating scherzo, neon-coloured, incident-packed, likeably quirky and stylistically quick-change ... Sir Andrew Davis takes charge of a gripping and graphically orchestrated work, as eloquent as it is dramatic, settings of poems by Anthony Burgess (texts included in the comprehensive booklet), and which holds the attention throughout, ending with a bittersweet nightclub number"


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"Roderick Williams is a splendid advocate for these songs and the BBCSO under Sir Andrew Davis deliver Yiu’s highly inventive scoring with panache ... all three works featured here are fascinating. Raymond Yiu writes with flair and handles a large orchestra resourcefully. Perhaps above all it’s the colours that he creates that have impressed me. The BBCSO has established a deserved reputation for giving expert performances of challenging new scores; these three performances show that Yiu’s music could hardly be in better hands, with three excellent conductors to guide the proceedings and two top-class soloists"


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Recorded live in Barbican Hall (tracks 1–7) and at the Royal Albert Hall, London (tracks 8–13)
Producer: Anthony Sellors (track 1), Ann McKay (tracks 2–13)
Engineer: Philip Burwell (tracks 1 & 8–13), Neil Pemberton (tracks 2–7)
24-bit digital editing: Jennifer Howells
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter

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