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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Gramophone
'For a single-disc introduction to the many voices of Max, look no further.'
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Classical Music
5 Stars
'Committed and polished performances...Excellent sound.'
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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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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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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 - McAlister Matheson Music Newsletter


23 September 2016
McAlister Matheson Music Newsletter
Anne McAlister

This fascinating disc combines newer works with old-established favourites. Orchestral pieces alternate with works for solo guitar, the latter played by young Edinburgh-born guitarist Sean Shibe. He gives a rare account of Hill Runes, a series of five characterful miniatures inspired by George Mackay Brown's enigmatic poem of that name. The music's nature is more akin to lute music; apparently Max was trying to find a way of writing for the guitar that was in no way 'Spanish'. Shibe is a persuasive advocate for the work, and also gives a warm-hearted performance of Farewell to Stromness.

The disc opens with Concert Overture: Ebb of Winter, the newest work here, written in 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the SCO. Inspired by the unpredictable Orkney weather, it' 'dances with mercurial fluidity, long strains of sinewy melody constantly buffeted by luminous sprays of chattering brass and woodwind' - The Scotsman. Lasting eighteen minutes, it is substantial, by turn agitated, tranquil and intense but underpinned by a warmth that draws the listener in.

Like Ebb of Winter, Last Door of Light (2008) receives its premiere outing on disc. Suffused with folk-like tunes and fragments, catchy rhythmic passages and solemn chorales, it culminates in a satisfying climax with brass and timpani prominent. Directing the orchestra is young prize-winning conductor Ben Gernon, who conducted the SCO's 2014 Prom featuring Max's music on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He gives the SCO full rein in An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, which is played with an irrepressible panache and swinging energy. Stand-out moments are an incredibly virtuosic ‘tipsy violinist', and a most spine-tingling rising of the sun, with the bagpipes emerging from the texture in (almost) subtle fashion.

It's all hugely life-inspiring, and a fitting tribute to a composer and conductor whose life was closely linked with that of the SCO for so many years.


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