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John McCabe

John McCabe

Ballet Suite no.1: Arthur Pendragon
Piano Concerto no.1
Pilgrim, for Double String Orchestra

John McCabe (piano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Docherty (leader)
Christopher Austin (conductor)

Recorded at City Halls, Glasgow
12-14 June 2006

Dutton's championship of composer-pianist John McCabe takes a major step forward with this gripping programme. McCabe's previously unrecorded quasi-symphonic four movement First Piano Concerto dates from 1967. Played by the composer, it has a winning combination of scherzando toccata and long-held elegiac tune. The first suite from David Bintley's ballet Arthur Pendragon, which was a huge success for the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2000 and 2001, is more than just a telling memento of that occasion, the four movements of the suite making a gripping concert work in their own right. The surprise of the programme for many lovers of McCabe's music will be the single movement Pilgrim for double string orchestra. Inspired by Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, this substantial score has many resonances of English music across the centuries, notably encompassing variations on a theme from Vaughan Williams's Ninth Symphony.

"The influences of Poulenc and Stravinsky are fully absorbed in this crisp 20-minute concerto (1967) with McCabe the impressive soloist. A more mature McCabe is heard in the Arthur Pendragon suite from a full-length ballet, truely theatrical music, scored with consistent skill. This enterprising disc is completed by Pilgrim (1998 version for double string orchestra). Inevitably there are echoes of Vaughan Williams, but McCabe's work stands on its own as a very individual and moving act of homage. The BBC SSO strings play with white-hot eloquence under Christopher Austin and the recording is full and resonant."
Michael Kennedy, Sunday Telegraph, 8 April 2007

"I remember poring over this piano concerto in Manchester's Henry Watson Music Library in my teens, eager to see how "modern music" was written, but not until now have I heard the piece. Its opening at once brought back the notation - piano trills stretching over pages. The soloist's entry, remarkably, is a minute-long trill, recalled in the third movement. The overall four-part structure is complex and dramatic, the idiom lean and laconic, and in this account, the work has an often explosive energy."
"Austin contrives a splendid climax in the string-orchestral Pligrim, and gives a fiery committed reading of music from the David Bintley ballet Arthur Pendragon."
Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 6 May 2007

"I have long been amazed why this splendid work, written for the 1967 Southport Centenary Festival, has not been recorded before ... so Dutton's commtted advocacy is unequivocally to be welcomed."
"Powerful stuff, the BBC Scottish SO's performance under Christopher Austin is inspired. With excellent sound, this issue is very strongly recommended."
Guy Rickards, Gramophone, June 2007

A brilliant performance by McCabe of his Southport ' Concerto, the first of his four concertos for the instrument to date. The piece was written in 1966-7 and is in the manner of an English Bartok full of rhythmic élan. This is marvellous music, vividly realised on this superbly engineered CD from Dutton.
Winner of Best New Piano Recording', International Piano Awards 2007

CDLX 7179

McCabe: Arthur Pendragon - Ballet Suite No.1 - BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra & Christopher Austin

Product ID CDLX7179
Price: £0.00
Out of Stock

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