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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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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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'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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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
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'...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 - New Zealand Herald


08 October 2016
New Zealand Herald
William Dart EmailPrint
5 Stars

Rating: 5/5
Verdict: A great English composer is farewelled with poetry and politics

A radical Peter Maxwell Davies first visited New Zealand in my student days, preaching doom for traditional classical music and Wagner in particular. By 1980, the English composer would turn up in my Sandringham lounge, charming a circle of my music students, playing a Schubert piano sonata.

When Davies died in March, as a knight of the realm and Master of the Queen's Music, he had put radicalism aside, in music if not in politics. He left us a folio of fine symphonies, 10 marvellous Naxos String Quartets, and many other major concert works, written from his Northern retreat in the Orkneys.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has released a most attractive sampling of orchestral works, interspersed with solos by guitarist Sean Shibe. The threat of climate change hangs over the two most recent orchestral offerings.

Ebb of Winter is suffused with the spirit of the Orkneys, catching fragile seasonal beauties with clear woodwind flurries and dark, throaty string sonorities.

Davies describes his 2008 Last Door of Light as "a meditation on individual and communal vulnerability," and the players catch the drama of grievous climatic disintegration as a lyrical folksong is threatened by ominous textures around it.

Last call for the orchestra is the 1985 An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. This is a flagrant party piece, complete with bagpiper, delivered with the enthusiasm of a rousing Hogmanay.

Shibe's penultimate guitar solo, Farewell to Stromness is short and sweet, its tune - crammed with scotch snaps - was particularly close to its composer's heart.

The 1981 Hill Runes is more challenging, with five miniatures that investigate the coloristic potential of Shibe's instrument. He gives it a magnificent performance, especially in the luminous resonances of a breathtaking Adagio molto.


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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