Wild Blue Yonder

Eleanor Alberga composer

Release Date: April 23, 2021
Catalog #: NV6346
Format: Digital & Physical
20th Century
21st Century

Eleanor Alberga explores the whole gamut of the human experience in  WILD BLUE YONDER, an equally diverse and coherent set of four contemporary chamber music pieces. While written over the course of twenty-two years, these pieces burst the limits of both space and time. No-Man’s-Land Lullaby reaches back over a century to World War I; Shining Gate of Morpheus enters the realm of the mystical; Succubus Moon explores the dark sides of the  human psyche; and The Wild Blue Yonder offers a glimpse into a world that is at once alien and  wonderful. Undauntedly, positively unsettling album; perfect listening for these unsettling times and a worthy addition to the much hailed album of Alberga’s three string quartets from 2019.


Hear a preview of the album

"Dreams, the subconscious and contemplation of our fragile human state are ever-present, the unfurling emotions and underlying concepts powerfully expressed"

BBC Music Magazine

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
1 No-Man's-Land Lullaby (Live) Eleanor Alberga Thomas Bowes, violin; Eleanor Alberga, piano 10:16
2 Shining Gate of Morpheus Eleanor Alberga Richard Watkins, horn; Ensemble Arcadiana | Thomas Bowes, violin; Oscar Perks, violin; Andres Kaljuste, viola; Hannah Sloane, cello 13:12
3 Succubus Moon Eleanor Alberga Nicholas Daniel, oboe; Ensemble Arcadiana | Thomas Bowes, violin; Oscar Perks, violin; Andres Kaljuste, viola; Hannah Sloane, cello 14:19
4 The Wild Blue Yonder (Live) Eleanor Alberga Thomas Bowes, violin; Eleanor Alberga, piano 11:45

Recorded Live on December 2, 1997 at Studio 1, University of Surrey in Guildford, United Kingdom
Recording Session Producer Harriet Sims

Recorded October 7-8, 2019 at Wyastone Concert Hall in Monmouth, United Kingdom
Recording Session Producer & Editing Stephen Frost
Session Engineer Simon Eadon

Recorded Live on November 22, 1996 at St John’s, Smith Square, London, United Kingdom
Recording Session Producer Tony Harrison
Recording Session Engineer Mike Clements

Artist photos Ben Ealovega

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Lewis, Chris Robinson, Jacob Smith

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Eleanor Alberga


Born 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist. Five years later she was composing works for the piano. In 1968 she won the biennial Royal Schools of Music Scholarship for the West Indies, which she took up in 1970 at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying piano and singing. But a budding career as a solo pianist — she was one of three finalists in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK in 1974 — was further augmented by composition with her arrival at The London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1978. Under the inspirational leadership of its Artistic Director, Robert Cohan, she became one of the very few pianists with the deepest understanding of modern dance and her company class improvisations became the stuff of legend.

Thomas Bowes


Thomas Bowes is one of the United Kingdom’s finest violinists. He is very active in the realm of cinema, and millions have heard him on the soundtracks of his 200+ film credits. Most recently he was featured as the solo violinist in Alexandre Desplat’s score for Guillermo del Toro’s award-winning stop-motion film Pinocchio.

Nicholas Daniel


Nicholas Daniel has long been acknowledged as one of the world’s great oboe players, and is one of Britain’s best known musicians. In a distinguished career that began more than four decades ago he has become an important ambassador in many different musical fields, and has significantly enlarged the repertoire for his instrument with the commissioning of hundreds of new works.

Daniel dedicates his life to music in many ways. He records and broadcasts widely, including regular recordings on the Harmonia Mundi Label, and he boasts a huge following internationally on social media. He is proud to support and patronize many important initiatives, charities, and trusts, and has directed several music festivals and concert series, most notably in Germany and Dartington. He has also been Music Director of the Leicester International Music Festival and Lunchtime series for many years. He is highly sought after as a teacher, being Professor at the Trossingen Musikhochschule in Germany and at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Following his BBC Proms conducting debut in 2004, he works with many fine ensembles in wide-ranging repertoire, from Baroque to contemporary, and from small groups to opera. He is Music Director of Triorca, an orchestral project which brings together talented young musicians from Serbia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In recognition of his achievements he was honoured in 2012 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Music, and cited as having made “an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the nation.” In October 2020 he was awarded an Order of the British Empire.

Having sung as in the choir of Salisbury Cathedral as a boy, Daniel was put directly into the spotlight at the age of 18 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. After a short period of study at London’s Royal Academy of Music, with Janet Craxton and Celia Nicklin and then privately with clarinetist Anthony Pay and with Hans Keller, he quickly established his career with early debuts at the BBC Proms and on disc.

He has been a concerto soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, performing a huge range of repertoire from Bach to Xenakis and beyond, premiering works written for him by composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Henri Dutilleux, James MacMillan, Thea Musgrave, John Tavener, and Michael Tippett, as well as encouraging many younger composers to write for the oboe. His recording of concertos by Vaughan Williams and MacMillan was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Premiere Award in 2016.

 As chamber musician Daniel is a founding member of the award-winning Britten Sinfonia, the Haffner Wind Ensemble, and the Britten Oboe Quartet, whose debut album was released to great acclaim on the Harmonia Mundi label in 2017. He also works regularly with the pianists Charles Owen and Julius Drake, and with many leading string quartets including the Carducci and Vogler. He is principal oboist of Camerata Pacifica, California’s leading chamber music ensemble, and is a popular guest at music festivals all over the world.

Richard Watkins

Richard Watkins


Richard Watkins was the Philharmonia Orchestra’s principal horn for 12 years, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founding member of London Winds. He has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues in the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., and has worked with conductors including Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Vasily Petrenko, Andrew Davis, and Mark Elder.

Watkins has a long association with Aldeburgh Music, first performing Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Peter Pears in 1983. Since then he appears regularly as soloist and recitalist, performing concertos by Colin Matthews and Oliver Knussen, and Britten’s works for solo horn, the Serenade, and Canticles. Watkins coaches and gives master classes at the Britten-Pears School, recorded Britten’s Serenade with Allan Clayton and Aldeburgh Strings, and directed the inaugural Britten–Pears Brass Week.

In recital, he performs with singers including John Mark Ainsley, Ian Bostridge, and Mark Padmore, and with pianists Barry Douglas, Julius Drake, Paul Lewis, Roger Vignoles, and Ian Brown.

Watkins has premiered concertos by Maxwell-Davies, Nigel Osborne, Magnus Lindberg, Dominic Muldowney, Nicola LeFanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Recent premieres include Colin Matthews’s Horn Concerto and trio; horn quintets by James MacMillan, David Matthews, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; and horn trios by Huw Watkins, Alexander Goehr, and Gerald Barry.

He has recorded the Mozart, Arnold, Glière, Smyth, and Matthews horn concertos; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante; and chamber works by Schumann, Schubert, and Poulenc. Recent releases include the Britten Canticles with Mark Padmore (Wigmore Live), Alexander Goehr’s Horn Trio (NMC), Edward Gregson’s Horn Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos), and Sea-Eagle, featuring works by British composers composed for Watkins (NMC).

Watkins holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn Playing at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is also a Fellow.

Oscar Perks

Oscar Perks


Oscar Perks enjoys a varied career as a violinist and chamber musician. Having started playing the violin at the age of five, Perks was awarded a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School where he studied with Hu Kun and Simon Fischer. He went on to read music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied composition with Robin Holloway. He then gained his masters at the Royal College of Music under Lutsia Ibragimova.

For five years Perks was a member of the Dante String Quartet, with whom he gave numerous concerts around the UK and abroad. Some of the most memorable moments were the Quartet’s performances of the complete Beethoven and Shostakovich Quartet cycles. With the Dantes, Perks also made recordings of all eight string quartets by C.V. Stanford, many of which were previously unpublished and unrecorded. Since leaving the quartet in 2019, Perks has devoted more time to his recently formed duo partnership with his wife, Ayaka Shigeno.

Perks has had the opportunity to perform as a soloist at many leading London venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, and Kings Place. A keen champion of new music, Perks’s performance of Above earth’s shadow by Michael Finnissy was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

In addition to his work as a performer, Perks coaches chamber music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and teaches violin at the Yehudi Menuhin School. He also runs the Langvad Jamboree: a summer chamber music festival held at a remote art gallery in northern Denmark, taking place every year in July.

Andres Kaljuste

Andres Kaljuste


Estonian violist, violinist, and conductor Andres Kaljuste is described by maestro Paavo Järvi as “blessed with trademark instinctive musicianship, a sensitive approach to sound and an ability to form an easy and natural bond with other musicians.”

Kaljuste studied orchestral conducting at the Sibelius Academy from 2014, while concurrently appearing as the guest-principal viola of the Helsinki Philharmonic for three consecutive seasons. He soon made his conducting debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic and conducted others in the Nordic region including Lahti Sinfonia, Tampere Philharmonic, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Estonian National Opera, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.

A keen chamber musician, Kaljuste performs regularly at festivals across Europe. He can often be heard in duo with pianist Sophia Rahman, particularly recognized for their performances of the music of Arvo Pärt and Heino Eller.

Kaljuste is a passionate teacher, having taught violin and viola while also holding the position of conductor of the school’s string orchestras at Lilla Akademien in Stockholm.

Hannah Sloane

Hannah Sloane


A graduate of the Juilliard School, cellist Hannah Sloane enjoys an international career centered upon chamber music. She has participated in Thy, Domaine Forget, Lewes, Wye Valley, Arcadia, Taos and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festivals and is a founding member of the Eusebius Quartet. Formed in 2016, the Eusebius Quartet has been hailed as “excellent” by the Sunday Times for their “clarity and unity of thought.” Finalists in the 2018 Royal Overseas League, the quartet has been in residence at numerous festivals around the UK, as well as regularly performing live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. Their debut recording featuring the chamber music of Eric Korngold will be released by SOMM Recordings in July 2021.

As a soloist, Sloane has performed with the Angel, Blackheath, Buxted, Haydon, Lambeth and Juilliard Orchestras. With the Juilliard Orchestra, she played Tan Dun’s Concerto for Six with the composer at Alice Tully Hall. Sloane has worked as guest principal cello with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Spira Mirabilis, and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and has played with Orchestre Romantique et Revolutionnaire, London Chamber Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort, and the MultiStory Orchestra. Sloane graduated from The Juilliard School in New York in 2013. In 2012, she was the recipient of a French American Exchange Grant from the Carla Bruni Sarkozy Foundation, which took her to study at the Paris Conservatoire. Her principal teachers were Carey Beth Hockett, Robert Max, Darrett Adkins, and Joel Krosnick.

A passionate teacher, Sloane teaches cello and chamber music at Alleyn’s School and Junior Royal Academy of Music, and has directed courses for Junior MusicWorks, London. 

Hannah plays a Piattellini cello dating 1780, which is kindly on loan to her from the Stark family.


At the time of writing the world is in turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic has cut massive swathes through conventional music-making as well as all sorts of hitherto taken-for-granted human activity. It has also forced those of us living lives of relative comfort and material safety into a more direct encounter with our mortality and has revealed more clearly what was always there—the fragility of our existence.

This album was planned to have a different shape, and two larger scale chamber works had to be replaced with two live performances of violin and piano works taken from our archive. But far from being a “make do” situation, this has turned out to create something rather cohesive—a kind of ongoing conversation with our existential doubts, fears, and hopes.

As the whole album took shape it became clear that together this particular grouping of four works can suggest a kind of long stare at the outer reaches of our shared human condition.

 Of the four works on this album, three are specifically to do with the world of sleep and dreams. The fourth—what we decided upon as the title track of this grouping—is a kind of bringing together of those aspects of our self-awareness that tilt us toward the very edge of our existence. Listened to without a break, the album can be heard as a journey of several encounters with this region—its demons, its comforters, its guardian angels, as well as its more impish spirits.

We start on the battlefields of World War I in the place known as no-man’s-land, and after its apparently peaceful opening, episodes of fear, deathly anticipation, and “going over the top” into battle, we join those abandoned to die in this place. From here we are beckoned into the world of dreams by Morpheus, god of dreams and sleep, and are allowed several brightly lit visions. We then move into a world of darkness and sexualized horror with Succubus, though just as things seem too much to bear, we are given a glimpse of moonlight and offered a hint of redemption. Finally, The Wild Blue Yonder is a release into a crazy adventure—and into places unknown and beyond.

— Thomas Bowes, November 2020

Setting about writing a new work for violin and piano in the summer of 1996, I had planned a somewhat lightweight and predominately upbeat piece. However, I was to receive visitations which ensured that the piece which emerged as No-man’s-land Lullaby has neither of these qualities. Indeed, for me the work became a kind of acknowledgement of my European heritage and a realization that two World Wars are part of my history also. 

Visiting parts of central Europe over that summer of 1996, I was struck by the almost unreal beauty of the landscapes; yet, I received a heavy sadness in the atmosphere that took me back to the events of half a century ago, some of which had been played out against this very scenery. At the same time I was visited by a melody. It arrived unbidden and would not leave me alone. It seemed, however, to offer comfort.

It was the imagery of the First World War that finally brought these things together, especially the image of men dying slowly and uncomforted in a place called No-man’s-land. I am especially indebted to Paul Fussell’s book The Great War and Modern Memory for laying out so clearly the life of soldiers in the trenches. The piece is cast in three sections and is entirely based on the melody that emerges most identifiably towards the end.

— Eleanor Alberga

I have always been drawn to Greek mythology and the world of fantasy that it embodies. This work came from the idea of Morpheus, the god best known to govern sleep and dreams. It is said that false dreams enter through gates of ivory and true dreams through gates of shining horn.  In Greek, the word for ‘ivory’ is like the word for ‘deceive’ and the word for horn is similar to that for ‘fulfil’; thus, the use of the horn as a musical instrument is significant. 

Homer describes this through Penelope’s words in The Odyssey:“Two gates there are for unsubstantiated dreams, one made of horn and one of ivory. The dreams that pass through the carved ivory delude and bring us tales that turn to naught; those that come forth through the polished horn accomplish real things, whenever seen.”

The piece is in one movement. A short introduction to the peaceful world of sleep is followed by a fanfare as we enter dreams which take us through several musical tableaux describing prophetic dreams. Strange things happen in dreams and somehow, along with doors opening into scenes such as “Ancestors speak,” “The Beloved,” and “Three descend,” there is a visit from Puck, an unrelated character who gets into the mix and stirs things up with his antics.

— Eleanor Alberga

The romantic and the demonic lie side by side in this work. Over centuries, man has interpreted his fear of the dark and unknown as caused by beings and superstitions outside himself; one of these interpretations became Incubi and Succubi, evil presences doing harm to humans. The piece juxtaposes the ethereal, tranquil, and reflective moon against the impenetrable darkness of the night where the demonic and seductive Succubus reigns. The oboe is the main protagonist, leading the mood or taking over what the strings have set up. The strings have their own episodes, and sometimes join with the oboe in main material.

The music goes from sparse to more driven rhythmic sections, to dreamy moonstruck moments, and finally drifts away. Towards the end there is, unusually, a C major chord—a ray of hope as the moon shines out amidst the primal terror. Succubus Moon was commissioned by the City of London Festival.

— Eleanor Alberga

This piece developed from the idea of arriving in a strange, totally alien environment. Several unrelated musical fragments are developed and attempt to become fused, causing the music to climax in a frenzied outburst. The end section could perhaps represent acknowledgement and acceptance of the irreconcilable.

— Eleanor Alberga