Related Reviews
BBC Music Magazine
4½ Stars
'...Maxwell Davies devices of whooping horn glissandos and hyperactive chattering trumpets, delivered with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's bombproof expertise; and Ben Gernon's conducting is forthright and immaculate.'
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AllMusic
'Included is an ebullient performance of one of Maxwell Davies' most popular pieces of any period, An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise...[Hill Runes and Farewell to Stromness] are beautifully played by guitarist Sean Shibe.'
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MusicWeb International
'The programme is well chosen, excellently played and beautifully recorded, making it about the most accessible introduction to Max's music that I can think of.'
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MusicWeb International
'An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise is a "joyous and show-stopping" piece...This performance is both refined and deliciously decadent...As a final salute to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies it could hardly be bettered.'
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New Zealand Herald
5 Stars
'The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has released a most attractive sampling of orchestral works, interspersed with solos by guitarist Sean Shibe...He gives it a magnificent performance, especially in the luminous resonances of a breathtaking Adagio molto [of Hill Runes].'
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Crescendo
« Farewell to Stromness est toute vibrante et gracieuse... [Ebb of Winter et Last Door of Light] de fort beaux exemples de l'exceptionnel talent de Peter Maxwell Davies... »
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The Arts Desk
'[Peter Maxwell Davies’s An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise] packs an emotional, uplifting punch, and this performance is a belter...The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, whose flawless, fearless playing under Ben Gernon is a consistent pleasure.'
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Classical Music
5 Stars
'Committed and polished performances...Excellent sound.'
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The Scotsman
5 Stars
'Ben Gernon conducts a performance that glistens with crystal clear textures and those mysterious Orkney soundscapes.'
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Herald Scotland
'The most beautiful, resonant and soulful performance of Max's Farewell to Stromness.'
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McAlister Matheson Music Newsletter
'...played with an irrepressible panache and swinging energy...It's all hugely life-inspiring.'
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Financial Times
4 Stars
'An atmospheric performance under conductor Ben Gernon.'
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The Sunday Times
'...this disc affords a fond farewell to the composer and the musical realisation of his adopted Orkney.'
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The Observer
4 Stars
'...it makes a worthy and deeply felt portrait of Max's Orkney.'
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SCO & Sean Shibe - Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise - Gramophone


01 October 2016
Gramophone
Peter Quantrill

Two substantial late works of Maxwell Davies here receive first recordings. Ebb of Winter (2013) is designated a concert overture, which may give a clue to its positive, hard-won conclusion, most unusual in Max's output. The opening is no less striking, and what comes between eventful and unerringly well-scored, even if the internal processes (why are we here and where are we going?) remain stubbornly obscure, as they tend to with his later music.

Last Door of Light (2009) may be an even more welcoming portal to those who see as much as hear music. Orcadian folk elements pervade the opening before the mists descend to bring characteristic episodes of stasis. Climbing out of them and proceeding onwards requires patience and tenacity but the journey is a toughly satisfying, Sibelian one, rewarded by a brass chorale bringing the title's promised point of light and rest.

Booklet photos show Max present and still an energetic, authoritative presence at the sessions last September, though he was mortally ill from the leukaemia that killed him in March. His long and fruitful association with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra included a previous recording (12/88) of the Orkney Wedding, but Linn's engineering is superior and crucially places Robert Jordan's climactic bagpipe solo towards centre stage. Ben Gernon secures playing of even greater spirit and accuracy than the composer, replete with shouts of glee.

Taking us back to the end of Max's highmodernist period, Hill Runes (1981) is a set of miniatures, like confessional postcards in tone, no less elliptical than the five verses of the George Mackay Brown poem that inspired them. In a most affectionate and subtly inflected performance, Sean Shibe also contributes Timothy Walker's arrangement of the evergreen Farewell to Stromness, which thousands play and hear without knowing another note of the composer's music. For a single-disc introduction to the many voices of Max, look no further.


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Related Links

Ben GernonBen Gernon
Scottish Chamber OrchestraScottish Chamber Orchestra
Sean ShibeSean Shibe
Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With SunriseMaxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise