Winter Images – Barry Mills – Vol. 9 – CC6052


“The performances, all given under the direction of the composer, and with almost all by the musicians for whom the individual works were originally composed, are invariably first-rate, and the recording quality is truly state-of-the-art in Colin Attwell’s experienced hands.

It is good to realise that music of this natural English style can still stir and move listeners”


Winter Images (2018) was composed for Michiko Shimanuki. The first movement, “Snowscape”, depicts the magical appearance and great stillness and silence of a landscape covered in deep snow. By contrast the second movement, “Swirling Snowflakes”, is always moving and changing, portraying a heavy snow storm. The third movement “Melting Snow” evokes snow changing to water and dripping from trees.

Cello Duo (2019). I wrote this piece for Sarah Carvalho-Dubost and Pavlos Carvalho. The first and second movements (“Waves and Ripples” and “The Searing Wind”) are imagistic, whilst the third, “Evening Thoughts”, has a contemplative quality. I am very fortunate in being able to see the sunset from the top floor of my house and I often watch this and reflect on how I have spent the day and the transience of everything. This meditative quality pervades this movement.

Evening and Night (2017). This piece was composed for Imogen Whitehead and Jennifer Walsh. “Evening” evokes an urban landscape and is a homage to Miles Davis. The harmon mute on the trumpet gives it an introspective quality. This was a musical colour often used by Davis himself. In “Night Sea” the cup mute creates a veiled, darker tone: this movement evokes the constantly changing patterns of moonlight on water.

“Questioning the Stars” begins with the trumpet playing “The Last Post” into the piano, causing the piano strings to resonate and echo the theme. In this instrumental dialogue, I imagine the trumpet posing the question – why do we go on having wars? – and the piano responding that the night sky has no answers, but registers the terrible suffering resulting from conflicts. The rest of the movement draws on phrases from “The Last Post” and ends with its first two notes played in unison by the piano and trumpet.

Lute Sketches (2021) was written for Sam Brown. “Pastoral” reflects the joy of being in the countryside and “Variations” is just that: a theme and variations.

Three Pieces for Michiko (2022). As the title suggests, these pieces were composed for Michiko Shimanuki. The first, “Children Meeting in Queen’s Park”, was my response to seeing Asian, Black and White parents bringing their children to the nursery in Queen’s Park Brighton. The children all ran to each other and smiled and embraced each other. I was very moved that skin colour was not an issue for them and by their great joy at seeing each other. There was a wild storm shaking the windows when I started working on “The Storm”: its ferocity is reflected in this movement.

“Autumnal Atmospheres” has descending melodic lines portraying falling leaves, and has a melancholic quality as this season (the sunset of the year) causes me to review the year and anticipate its ending.

Falling Leaves (2018). This guitar duo opens with the tapping of fingernails on the body of the guitar, depicting the sound of dry leaves hitting branches as they fall to the ground. Descending sequences of notes mirroring the movement of falling leaves, and alternating chords suggesting gentle breezes, follow and complete this imagistic piece, which was composed for Brian Ashworth and Jon Rattenbury.

Three Places in Costa Rica (2020). I visited Costa Rica in 2019 and made sketches during my travels which I later developed into these three movements for violin and piano. “Cloud Forest in Monteverde” is a musical impression of the experience of walking through a swirling mist, across wooden bridges, in the canopy of a forest. Bird and animal calls periodically punctuated a deep calming silence.

“The Sea at Puerto Viejo” paints in sound the multitude of different patterns created by waves breaking and criss-crossing on the beach.

The last movement, “Night Walk in Kinkajou Nature Reserve” has a nocturnal, mysterious atmosphere. During this walk our guide pointed out all manner of life forms inhabiting the woodland. The piece was composed for Oliver Nelson and Vasileios Rakitzis.

Duo for Violin and Viola (2020). This duo is dedicated to Robert Matthew Walker, and chronicles some of my experiences

during the coronavirus pandemic. The piece opens with “This New Day” portraying a joyful peaceful morning, followed jarringly by “The Vortex” which reflects the fear and anxiety caused by the spread of the virus which was taking many lives. Next, “Dialogues” is a warm tender piece celebrating the ways in which people developed strategies for meeting and helping each other. Finally, “In Memoriam” expresses the great sadness I felt watching the newsreels about NHS workers who died whilst caring for people infected by the virus. The testimonials of friends and family consistently described unselfish, deeply kind, compassionate people who would be very much missed.

The Calm Lake (2023) was composed for Nancy Cooley. It opens with a chord in the high register alternating with a chord in the low register, depicting the gentle ebb and flow of water at the edge of a lake. Surface ripples come and go but a calm joy is always present during this piece.


Barry Mills (composer) was born in 1949 and is for the most part self-taught as a composer. He obtained a degree in Biochemistry from Sussex University in 1971, returning there in 1976-77 to pursue an MA in Music, studying analysis with David Osmond-Smith and David Roberts and composition with Colin Matthews and Ann Boyd.


Winter Images is the ninth CD of his music issued by Claudio Records. Thalia Myers commissioned the piano piece “Clouds” from him for the Spectrum 2 collection published by the Associated Board and recorded by her on the NMC double CD “Spectrum”. “Clouds” was issued by the Associated Board as a Grade 3 set piece in August 2002. His orchestral piece “Tartano” was premiered by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Jiri Mikula, in 1997 in Olomouc, the Czech Republic, and recorded by them for the Vienna Modern Masters label. His music has been performed and broadcast in England and Switzerland and has featured in recitals in many London venues including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, St Martin’s in the Fields, St John’s Smith Square, the Almeida Theatre and the Warehouse. Performances have also taken place in Wales, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, and the USA. To date Barry Mills has collaborated with Jerry Laurence (VPM Design) in producing 46 filmed performances of his music for YouTube. These can all be accessed via the Filmed Performances icon on his website (see below). He now divides his time between composing and organising concerts in the Brighton area.


My thanks to Colin Attwell for his patience and thoughtfulness throughout the making of this CD. My thanks also to his son Alex who has created beautiful artwork and set out the sleeve notes with great care. I am enormously grateful to my dear friend Geoff Hands who created the cover painting especially for the CD. A big thank you to Kay Sharp, who proof read and edited my booklet notes. Finally thank you to all my dear musician friends for these beautiful recordings.

© 2023 Barry Mills

**Composers Website



Winter Images Winter Images [Michiko Shimanuki, piano]/Cello Duo [Sarah Carvahlo-Dubost, Pavlos Carvahlo, cellists]/ Evening and Night [Imogen Whitehead, trumpet; Jennifer Walsh, piano]/Lute Sketches [Sam Brown, lute]/Three Pieces for Michiko [Michiko Shimanuki, piano]/Falling Leaves [Jon Rattenbury, Brian Ashworth, guitars]/Three Places in Costa Rica [Oliver Nelson, violin; Vasileios Rakitzis, piano]/Duo for Violin and Viola [Ellie Blackshaw, violin; Ros Hanson-Laurent, viola]/ The Calm Lake [Nancy Cooley, piano] ***** Claudio CC6052-2

This is the ninth (out of a projected series of ten) release of the music of the contemporary English composer Barry Mills, whose music naturally stems from what might be termed the British Pastoral School. Not that there is anything that might be construed as a revisitation of the music of John Ireland or the simpler folk-application of Vaughan Williams, though in the nature of things those masters are occasionally invoked – but here is a genuine voice that speaks naturally in a language that is both appealing, well expressed and fully understood by all sympathetic listeners.

One of the most compelling of Mills’s characteristics is the varied instrumental timbres through which his music is expressed, and as may be gleaned from the above heading, it is the combination of instrumental colour, in all its forms, that adds such an attractive and welcome timbre to his natural civilised expression. Here is a genuine musical voice, an experienced creator in sound, whose works betoken both a directness of utterance and ease of communication that many fellow-composers would envy.

The performances, all given under the direction of the composer, and with almost all by the musicians for whom the individual works were originally composed, are invariably first-rate, and the recording quality is truly state-of-the-art in Colin Attwell’s experienced hands.

It is good to realise that music of this natural English style can still stir and move listeners.

© 2023 John Alexander.


CD Reviews

CLAUDIO Contemporary CC6052-2

Here on this CD are eight vibrant chamber works by Barry Mills (b. 1949). Several contain multiple movements – 22 pieces in total. The word Images in the title is significant. Mills paints pictures with his music. Actually, these are not just still pictures, they are motion pictures. Movement is so very crucial to his music.

Many of the 13 performers on this CD have worked for Mills before. There are four pianists, two of them soloists, a cello duo, two violinists, one of whom plays in a duo with a viola player. There is a lutenist and a guitar duo. Taken together they are surely a company of the finest musicians from the South of England across a wide range of instruments.

Winter Images is the title of the opening work. Three solo piano movements are played eloquently by Michiko Shimanuki. Stillness across a gleaming snow-covered landscape shines forth from the piano in Snowscape, then with Swirling Snowflakes the piano drives a blizzard. A series of single notes describe drops of water from the trees in Melting Snow. All three movements are wonderfully graphic.

This is equally true of Cello Duo especially The Searing Wind. Then warm harmonies suggest a peaceful sunset in Evening Thoughts.

Evening and Night is a real performance hight point. Trumpet player Imogen Whitehead is teamed with pianist Jennifer Walsh. Different trumpet mutes are used, first to create a city scape with a suggestion of jazz, then a darker vision of Night Sea. Questioning the Stars is a fine anti-war piece.

Lute Sketches performed by Sam Brown is more like pure abstract music especially Variations. Mills can do that too. In his Three Pieces for Michiko, the first is more thoughtful, dealing with the innocence of young children who do not even understand racism. However, with The Storm and Autumnal Atmosphere the music is once again radiantly pictorial.

Falling Leaves for guitar duo is amazing. It opens with the instruments used in percussion style, graphic in a most imaginative way. Three Places in Costa Rica takes us on a colourful pictorial journey. The Duo for Violin and Viola is a serious work with four movements dealing with memories of the Covid Pandemic. The final work The Calm Lake is for piano solo. Here Nancy Cooley restores happier feelings to close the recital.

© 2023 Alan Cooper.