Full Discography


John Harle – producer, composer, arranger, instrumentalist.

Decca 00028948348626

THE GRAMOPHONE – Review May 2019

"Many will remember the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year as that rare old tussle between two very different musical personalities – eventual winner Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s intensely lyrical cello versus Jess Gillam’s colourful, effervescent saxophone. Those core elements have been retained by Kanneh-Mason and Gillam on their respective debut albums – depth and gravitas on the former’s ‘Inspiration’ (3/18), fizz and sparkle on ‘Rise’. Yet both albums demonstrate a real willingness to move away from, and question, such simple, crass categorisations.
In Gillam’s case, the range of repertoire enables her to explore a wide breadth of moods and atmospheres. Dance-like pieces, such as Pedro Iturralde’s Pequeña Czarda, the ‘Brazileira’ from Milhaud’s Scaramouche and the traditional Russian song ‘Dark eyes’ contain by-now trademark Gillam isms – lively characterisation combined with technical brilliance. ‘Dark eyes’ opens with a cadenza-like flourish which sees Gillam’s soprano saxophone darting up and down the instrument’s register, the song’s original tune eventually transformed into frantic Klezmer-style flourishes.
‘Dark eyes’ is one of several arrangements by the virtuoso saxophonist John Harle, whose vast experience as composer, arranger and producer is evident throughout. Harle has managed to grasp, harness and develop the multi-dimensional elements that have been innate to Gillam’s musical character since the very beginning. More lyrical moments work especially well here, such as in the song arrangements of Michael Nyman’s ‘If’ and Kate Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work’, which allow Gillam more time and space to engage with and shape the sound itself. Harle’s own composition, ‘Rant!’, written for Gillam and drawing on folk materials from Cumberland and Westmorland, is especially powerful. Gillam’s soprano saxophone is bright and resonant in its high range, gruff and punchy at the lower end, with Harle’s melodic lines and figures at times suggesting Kathryn Tickell’s Northumbrian pipe style.
‘Rise’ is an impressive collection of songs, dances and theme tunes. It perhaps lacks a more substantial sonata-based work that might act as a counterweight to the showpieces: it would be interesting to see what Gillam might make of, say, Michael Torke’s Saxophone Concerto or Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Two Memorials. That, no doubt, is for another time and another album."


“The music really sets the tone of the film.
The soundtrack, by acclaimed composer John Harle, only adds to the sense of playful complexity with sweeping strings and his trademark mournful saxophone replacing the standard voiceover”
i-D Magazine

"John Harle’s charming score strikes up deliberate echoes of Jacques Tati".
Sight and Sound

“The underlying tristesse is emphasised by specially composed music by John Harle”
The Arts Desk

“I loved the film -- I am not a wholehearted, come-what-may Hockney fan, except as a wonderful grumpy old man, but it really made me appreciate both his character and his talent, in a way I really didn't expect. I loved the circling structure,
and in particular the music. Five stars from me!”

The Sunday Times ★★★★★

THE MUSIC FOR HOCKNEY - by Randall Wright, Director.
Hockney has pints of awkwardness in his blood, ‘F**k you, I don’t care what the neighbours think’. Joyously he defends his liberty: Smoking, painting, looking at the world his way...
John Harle has a similar intensity, brilliant, audacious, funny and distinctly English. And he smokes cigars.They are both born to entertain, charm, and are both artistically omnivorous and authentic.

John instantly grasped that David’s more populist public stance is both genuine and a cover for a much more complex, serious, vulnerable and perhaps lonely person. There are always undercurrents in the great pictures, quite literally in A Bigger Splash, which is a witty painting of a body, but at the same time a sad story: the much loved swimmer will never surface in this world. Love is still out of reach. John’s track, The Splash (Angel Eyes) exposes the hidden romantic message perfectly.

John's genius reveals these deeper layers in all the pictures of the film. I wanted the music to be telling the story. The album tells a similar story, starting and finishing with a wonderful carefree tone, with John Parricelli's banjo and the jokey coconuts, and becoming a delightful tea dance. It echoes Hockney’s personal motto to ‘love life’. John's virtuoso clarinet in Fresh Flowers goes further: the thrill of drawing, of getting out of yourself to see life with an innocent eye, as if for the first time. Vaudeville Boy offers the tantalizing fantasy of love and sex. Surf Boy, The Bradford Bomb and The Grand Canyon dive deeper into what John describes as the duende, meaning the soul or ‘irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical.’ Gay Life adds a wonderful jazz improvisation by Steve Lodder. This is film music that ignores the dreary overtones of the word documentary. The film's desire to portray the complexity of David’s optimism is unimaginable without it.
Hockney can draw and paint like an angel.
John’s music reveals a magician.

The Tyburn Tree


THE OBSERVER - "John Harle's epic CV includes soundtracks, classical works and drama, all of which feed into the saxophonist's ambitious song cycle about "dark London". Its tales of the Limehouse Ripper, Spring Heeled Jack and the Highgate Vampire are centred a few centuries back, with words from William Blake and John Dee, though most of the lyrics are by Marc Almond, along with Tom Pickard and Iain Sinclair. There are splashes of cabaret and jazz, but the echoing, crepuscular atmosphere is dominated by Almond's impressive neo-operatic singing (some distance from electro-pop!), with a thumping, galloping finale that uses an extract from Blake's "prophetic book" Jerusalem. Dark but dashing". Neil Spencer

CLASSIC POP - "Almond is having the time of his life with his own lyrics, spinning tales based upon folkloric figures: here's the Victorian era's Spring Heeled Jack, bounding around London amidst prog-influenced histrionics.
Ultimately, it's the blend of Almond's delivery and Harle's remarkable score - West End Musical meets gory horror flick - that makes this so remarkable". Wyndham Wallace

Art Music


"We all know that Marc Almond can sing but it still comes as a shock to hear his thrillingly drawn-out climax to Harle's "The Arrival of Spring", emoting words adapted from William Blake with operatic oomph.
The overall theme of the album is the inspiration the composer and reeds maestro has found in visual art, with sections devoted to Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Francis Bacon and John Craxton, who was Harle's friend and neighbour.
There's some wonderful stuff here". The Independent October '13

Round Midnight

In tribute to the late Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Sospiro Records has released an EP of Richard and John Harle with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Never before heard, this compilation is from an unreleased album.
Featuring Richard on Piano and John on saxophone, these luxuriant and swinging arrangements by Richard also feature the flugelhorn of Henry Lowther (Gil Evans, Charlie Watts Orchestras) and the harmonica of Paul Jones (Manfred Mann, The Blues Band).
Available as download only, each purchase includes a donation to The Musicians Benevolent Fund in memory of Richard.


Harle loves juxtapositions - long, silky saxophone notes against the sound of a classical soprano singer, the toll of a church-bell, African percussion rhythms, - that's the background to Silencium, but it's still an album of songs - it's just that Harle makes you reconsider what a song can be - John Fordham - The Guardian

Terror And Magnificence

Shakespeare via Elvis Costello, Gothic mysteries, free-jazz, forty saxes playing at once - Terror and Magnificence is a wonderful splicing of ancient and modern - John Fordham - The Guardian

Spirit Walk

Harle seems to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of particular singers and players like a jazz composer does, but he has an overarching vision that sets just the right place for all of it within his scheme of things, - that's why didgeridoos, string orchestras, trip-hop grooves, Andy Sheppard's sax or Sarah Jane Morris's voice can all sound as if they're in a real relationship here, rather than just bolted together - John Fordham - The Guardian

The Shadow of the Duke

With Richard Rodney Bennett, Paul Jones, Sarah Leonard and Stan Tracey. The Shadow of the Duke - John Harle understands both the jazz and classical traditions, and is brilliant at getting musicians of different backgrounds to work creatively together. All that makes Shadow of the Duke a completely different kind of tribute album - John Fordham - The Guardian

Songs of Earth and Alchemy (Compilation Set)

The John Harle Collection (boxed set of the four)

This collection expresses classical music's symmetry and lyricism through tradtional methods and modern electronics, opens a unigue widow on Duke Ellington, joins sharpend jazz to English folk balladry, and makes trip-hop, decks playing and world-music sound as if they belong together. - Harle, the Alchemist of Ambient Soundscapes - John Fordham - The Guardian

The Ballad of Jamie Allan

A folk opera with texts by the Newcastle poet Tom Pickard, it tells the story of the 18th century Northumbrian piper, royal musician, deserter and horse thief, Jamie Allan - with Opera star Omar Ebrahim, Soul/Jazz diva Sarah-Jane Morris, Northumbrin Piper Kathryn Tickell and the Northern Sinfonia conducted by John Harle.

John Harle Plays

Clarinet Classics CC0048

Re-release of the classic Hyperion disc. A contemporary recital disc of music by Phil Woods, Richard Rodney Bennett, Dave Heath, Edison Denisov and Michael Berkeley.


Hannibal / Rykodisc HNCD1331

John Harle with John Lenehan (piano) in a recording of music by Bartok, Satie, Gershwin, Villa-Lobos, Richard Rodney Bennett and Poulenc. Produced by the legendary Joe Boyd.

John Harle Saxophone Songbook

Unicorn Kanchana DKP (CD) 9160

Music by Rachmaninov, Corea, Dowland, Machaut, Prokofiev, Birtwistle and Nyman, with John Lenehan (piano), Sarah Leonard (soprano) - recorded in the beautiful church at Orford near Aldeburgh.

Saxophone Concertos

EMI Classics CDC 7 54301

Concertos by Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Villa-Lobos, Richard Rodney Bennett and Dave Heath. Conducted by Sir Neville Marriner with The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. For many, the definitive performances of some of the classics of the saxophone repertoire.

Songs from A History of Britain

BBC Music WMSF60402

Songs written by John Harle for Simon Schama's BBC 'A History of Britain' with sopranos Emma Kirkby, Sarah Leonard and Lucy Skeaping, Dominic Burnham (treble), Willard White (bass) - also featuring Elvis Costello.

Sax Drive

Decca/Argo 443 529

Saxophone Concertos by John Harle's long time colleague film composer Stanley Myers, the American minimalist Michael Torke, and Richard Rodney Bennett's Concerto for Stan Getz premiered by John Harle at the BBC promenade concerts shortly after Getz's death.

Shaolin Wheel of Life

SWOL 2004/1

Composed and produced by John Harle Music from the highly successful West End show now touring worldwide. Phenomenal jazz guitar solos by Phil Robson. With the RTE Choir and Orchestra.

John Harle's Saxophone


A contemporary recital disc of music by Phil Woods, Richard Rodney Bennett, Dave Heath, Edison Denisov and Michael Berkeley.

Terror And Magnificence

John Harle Decca/Argo 452 605 2

The first album release of John Harle's concert music including songs from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, sung by Elvis Costello; Terror and Magnificence featuring the saxophone duo of John Harle and Andy Sheppard; The Three Ravens song cycle sung by Sarah Leonard; Rosie Blood sung by William Purefoy plus the John Harle Band, Balanescu Quartet, London Voices.

The Imagined Sound of Sun on Stone - Sally Beamish


Sally Beamish's acclaimed soprano saxophone concerto for John Harle, depicting the Summer Solstice at Newgrange, a neolithic burial mound outside Dublin. With The Swedish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ola Rudner.

Morricone Paradiso


John Harle arranges and produces this EMI Classics CD featuring Yasuto Tanaka, with John in guest appearances as soloist. Lesser-known Morricone sits alongside the great melodies from the Spaghetti Westerns. Other arrangers include Daniel Eisner Harle and Ian Gardiner.



John Harle is co-soloist with Rob Buckland on Andy Scott's double saxophone concerto Dark Rain. John is also co-producer of the album.

The Ship

WMFF 6058-2

John Harle with Guy Barker, Sarah-Jane Morris, Andy Sheppard and Adrian Utley John Harle's most rhythmic and danceable album so far features a galaxy of stars from iconoclastic backgrounds as varied as world music, British trip-hop, modern jazz and classical music. It is full of surprises from the gut wrenching sound of the screaming Maoris, and Sarah-Jane Morris' vocalisations to Andy Sheppard's outrageous tenor saxophone solos via Adrian Utley's evocative guitar work and Guy Barker's cool jazz flugel horn. John Harle's compositions evoke a new world of trance-like, tribal, beat and rhythm. Guided by his own contributions on soprano sax, guitars and keyboards, the album has another worldliness and a hallucogenia seen before in his collaborations with Elvis Costello and Sir Paul McCartney.

Panic - Harrison Birtwistle

Decca /Argo 452 104

Possibly the most controversial piece of new music written in the latter part of the twentieth century Harrison Birtwistle's Panic caused a storm when Harle performed it at the Last Night of the Proms in 1995 with Andrew Davis (conductor) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The media frenzy which followed its performance caused Private Eye to change their front cover and a vociferous Anne Robinson to compare John Harle to a character from the soap opera "Coronation Street"!

Ingolf Dahl Saxophone Concerto

Decca/Argo 444 459

Composition teacher to Michael Tilson Thomas, Ingolf Dahl's Concerto for alto saxophone and symphonic wind band is a highly virtuosic work in a full blooded American style. With Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor) and players from the New World Symphony Orchestra.

Silencium - Songs of the Spirit

Decca/Argo 458 356 2

Album of songs by John Harle, many based on his most popular Film and Television themes, including the RTS award winning theme for 'Silent Witness' featuring Amanda Burton. Sung by Catherine Bott, Sarah Leonard and Nicole Tibbels with the Silencium Ensemble / Choristers of Worcester Cathedral / The Children of New Brighton Primary School, Wirral / The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.



John Harle's highly popular Mrs Beeton's Christmas Plum Pudding featuring the BBC singers conducted by Stephen Cleobury and actors Eleanor Bron and Charles Collingwood in a nostalgic fantasy played on Christmas day 2001 as Radio 4 opened for broadcast.


Zomba KGB D 004

John Harle's award-winning music to Nissan's world-wide advertising campaign which achieved a number six position in the British Dance Charts. With a creative concept from advertising guru Trevor Beattie and mixed by Simon Cotsworth of Soul 2 Soul, it features John Harle's mid 1990's ensemble "Opera House".

The Shadow of the Duke

EMI Classics CDC 7 54298

John Harle's contemporary album of his own reworkings of compositions by Duke Ellington alongside compositions by himself with guest artists Paul Jones (harmonica) Richard Rodney Bennett (piano) Anne Dudley (arranger) Henry Lowther (trumpet) and Stan Tracey (piano).


Decca/Argo 433 847

Michael Nyman - Where the bee dances Gavin Bryars - The Green Ray Mike Westbrook - Bean Rows and Blues Shots Three new English works for saxophone and chamber orchestra conducted by Ivor Bolton with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta

Total Eclipse - John Tavener

Harmonia Mundi HMU 907271

John Tavener's apocalyptic vision of the crucifixion of St Paul, with the Soprano Saxophone in the role of St.Paul. With conductor Paul Goodwin and the Academy of Ancient Music.

Elvis Costello: Il Sogno

CD 471 577-2

Ballet after Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream - with saxophone and percussion duo solos by John Harle and Peter Erskine

Deutsche Grammophon.

Frank Martin Ballade

Decca Classics 444 455

Frank Martin's chromatic and challenging Ballade for alto saxophone performed with conductor Riccaro Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.

Dominic Muldowney Saxophone Concerto

EMI 7243 5 66528 2 8

Commissioned by the late Michael Vyner, the driving force behind the early London Sinfonietta, the concerto was a result of much collaboration between Dominic Muldowney and John Harle in the National Theatre music department in London and includes inflences from composers such as Kurt Weill. With conductor Diego Masson and the London Sinfonietta.

Michael Nyman - Double Concerto

EMI 7243 5 56487 2 3

Nyman's legendary Double Concerto, with John Harle and Julian Lloyd Webber. With The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Michael Nyman.

When Im Gone

Delphian DCD34026

Harle joins soloists, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and Laudibus to play the music of Richard Allain.

A Finer Truth - James Whitbourne

Etcetera KTC 1248

James Whitbourne's 'Son of God Mass', with John Harle on Soprano Sax. Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, conducted by Timothy Brown.

Gavin Bryars - a portrait

Philips 473 296-2

A CD to celebrate Bryars' 60th birthday, it includes Harle's performance of The Green Ray.

Songs for Alexander


With the Orchestra of St John's Smiths Square, conductor John Lubbock.


Glass's mesmeric duet for 2 soprano Saxophones and strings, performed with saxophonist Simon Haram, and the London Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green.

Lost in the Stars - Sting


Saxophone solo on Stings version of "Mac the Knife" by Kurt Weill, produced by the legendary Hal Wilmer.

Hard Fairy - Graham Fitkin

Decca/Argo 444 112

An unsung masterpiece of the contemporary repertoire, Fitkin's electrifying journey through hard edged rhythmic cells and spine-tingling modulations thrills with every listening.

Hook - Graham Fitkin - Graham Fitkin

Decca/Argo 440 216

Another of Fitkin's hard bop ensemble pieces, with the unusual addition of Jack Brymer playing first clarinet in the John Harle Band!

Get Happy - George Shearing

EMI Classics CDC 7 54190

Harold Arlen's 'One for my Baby' performed with the George Shearing Trio, and the Kings Singers, - arranged by Daryl Runswick.

Little Threepenny Music - Kurt Weill

CBS MK 44529

London Symphony Brass and Woodwinds play Weill's Suite from the Threepenny Opera, with saxophone solos played by John Harle.

The Piano - Michael Nyman

Virgin 7243 8 39560 2 9

The multi-milllion seller soundtrack, with saxophone solo on 'Lost and Found'

The Essential Michael Nyman Band - Michael Nyman

Decca/Argo CD 436 820

Soundtrack music from The Draughtman's Contract, Prosperos Books and others, with the classic line-up of the Nyman Band at the height of their rhythmic commitment and no holds barred, energetic performance style.

The Suit and the Photograph - Michael Nyman

Virgin 7243 5 56574 2 8

Rare example of Nymans Chamber Music. Elegant works for String and Saxophone Quartets.

Tank Battles - Dagmar Krause


Wonderfully idiosyncratic versions of songs by Hanns Eisler with a small ensemble including John Harle and ex-Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson.

Wind in the Bamboo Grove - Evelyn Glennie

BMG/Catalyst 09026 681 93 2

Akiro Yuyama's 'Divertimento' for Alto Sax and Marimba played with the world's leading percussionist.

African Sunrise - Dave Heath/Evelyn Glennie

Black Box BBM1051

The multi faceted composer Dave Heath's work 'Dawn of a New Age' includes extraordinary spatial effects - and possibly the hardest two bar phrase ever written for the Soprano Saxophone.

Steve Lodder - bout time 2

Sleeve SLV 5010

John Harle features on 'Truly' - composed by long time associate and keyboard player Steve Lodder. Also with Andy Sheppard, Monica Vâsconcelos, Paul Nieman and Mark Ramsden

Fair Oak Fusions

Sepia records RRT 1007

music written by John Dankworth, featuring Julian Lloyd Webber (cello) and the Myrha saxophone quartet.

Pièce en forme de Habanera - Ravel

CBS MK 44800

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts John Harle and the London Symphony Orchestra in Ravel's textural and atmospheric masterwork.

My England

ASV Living Era

John Harle as soloist in Christopher Gunning's Saxophone Concerto with The Academy of St Martin's in the Fields.

Sailing By

White Line CD WHL 2138

John Harle features in 'Street Scene' with Gavin Sutherland and the English Ballet Sinfonia.

Lesley Garrett - I Will Wait for you

BBC BBC75605 51354 2

John Harle as guest producer on Lesley Garrett's no 1 hit record, including John Harle's own arrangement of Amazing Grace, with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The Best of Ute Lemper

Decca 458931 The best of Ute Lemper

Lemper performs 'Careless Love Blues' from the Stanley Myers/John Harle soundtrack album for 'Voyager' starring Sam Shepard.

Prick Up Your Ears

Silver Screen cassette/album FILMC 014

Soundtrack album to Stephen Frears'/Alan Bennett's film biography of Joe Orton. Featuring John Harle co-composer (with Stanley Myers) /producer/ saxophone and John Harle's Berliner Band.

Homo Faber (Voyager)

Milan CD CH 804

Soundtrack album to Volker Schlondorff's film starring Sam Shepard, featuring John Harle co-composer (with Stanley Myers)/producer/saxophone and Ute Lemper voice

Moondog Big Band

Trimba Music 01001-8

60s' mystic rock guru Moondog's compositions for big band John Harle producer with London Brass and London Saxophonic

First & Foremost

Decca/Argo CD 443 903

Music by Michael Nyman, Chick Corea, David Bedford, Roy Powell and Will Gregory, featuring Apollo Saxophone Quartet, with John Harle - Artistic Advisor/Co-Producer/ saxophone/keyboards.

Bow Out


Music by Michael Nyman, Chick Corea and Roy Powell Apollo Saxophone Quartet, John Harle producer


Saxpak ASV CD WHL 2106

Music by Gershwin, Grainger, Ellington, etc, featuring Saxpack, - John Harle producer.

Standing Stone - Paul McCartney

EMI 7243 5 56484 2 6

The result of four years work with Paul McCartney, orchestrating and recording 'Standing Stone', - the follow up to the controversial 'Liverpool Oratorio'.

A Garland for Linda - Paul McCartney

EMI 7243 5 56961 2 0

John Harle arranges Paul McCartney's 'Nova' - written as a commemoration of the life of Linda McCartney.

Gormenghast - Richard Rodney Bennett

Sony Classical/BBC SK 89135

John Harle conducts the BBC Philharmonic in Bennett's heroic, lush score to Mervyn Peake's gruesome tale in an extravagent, star filled BBC production, featuring cinema-style colour, very likeable characters, and stereo sound.


Chilled Classics Phillips 472 064-2

TV advertised compilation with John Harle's theme for 'Silent Witness', alongside tracks by John Barry, Ravi Shankar and Terry Oldfield.

Short Cuts - Breaking the Sound Barrier

Decca/Argo CD 443 396

Argo compilation, including Stanley Myers' Saxophone Concerto.

Angelic House - Ambient Love Collection

Newsic 28CD-NO16

Futuristic compilation of House and Rave music, including John Harle's Flying.

TV Classics vol 3

RTL TV compilation featuring music by Mozart, Bizet, Stravinsky, Harle, Brahms and Liszt.

Ty Vole, Na Zakladni Skole (Sto Zvirat)

SONY 505069 2

Prague based band 'Hundred Animals' in a SKA style cover version of 'Little Tiny Boy", from 'Terror and Magnificence'. Witty and fun.