Toby Young: Beowulf / Young, Armonico Consort

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The story of Beowulf, although thousands of years old, is still loved by many all over the world. This recording of a new musical telling of the story, composed by Toby Young, blurs traditional sense of the genre of classical music by merging it with folk and popular music. This fusion is what makes Beowulf a fantastic story. The greatest versions of the story are not those defined by a simplistic clash of good versus bad, but the ones which involve slight ambiguous points; ones which allow the reader/listener to make his/her mind up about what is exactly going on. The combination of Toby Young’s score and Jennifer Thorp’s libretto create this perfectly – with characterful narration by celebrated actor Timothy West, beautiful performances by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas.


This disc is really a lot of fun. The English composer Toby Young (b. 1990) studied at King’s College, Cambridge (with Robin Holloway) and New College, Oxford. This work is a retelling of the classic story of Beowulf, involving a script by William Towers, based on ideas by Danny Coleman-Cooke, and a sung libretto by Jennifer Thorp. Famed actor Timothy West is the superb narrator, and the young choral forces sing music to accompaniment of a small instrumental ensemble. Coleman-Cooke’s treatment of the story introduces ambiguity rather than hewing to a simple good vs. evil dynamic. Young’s music feels perfectly gauged. Each “cue” is never too long. The overall style is both completely of the present while also evoking the “ancient” era of the story. It is beautifully recorded and performed, and makes for a most enjoyable hour of storytelling in words and music.


Product Description:

  • Release Date: September 18, 2020

  • Catalog Number: SIGCD632

  • UPC: 635212063224

  • Label: Signum Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Contemporary

  • Composer: Toby Young

  • Conductor: Christopher Monks

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Armonico Consort

  • Performer: Elin Manahan Thomas


  1. Beowulf

    Composer: Toby Young

    Ensemble: Armonico Consort

    Performer: Timothy West (Narrator), Elin Manhan Thomas (Soprano), Anne Denholm (Harp), Toby Young (Keyboards)

    Conductor: Christopher Monks