SCO & Sean Shibe - Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise - AllMusic

This Linn release was recorded in the fall of 2015, before the death of Peter Maxwell Davies the following spring. It's not clear whether it was intended as a tribute to the still-active composer, who was suffering from a terminal illness, but it would serve perfectly well as one, at least for the less brash final phase of Maxwell Davies' career. This composer, perhaps better than anyone else thus far, has split the difference between the avant-garde and the great British pastoral tradition, and this group of pieces exemplifies his accessible late style. Included is an ebullient performance of one of Maxwell Davies' most popular pieces of any period, An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise (sample anywhere here), but it's balanced by some comparative rarities including the five Hill Runes, guitar miniatures that weave various capabilities of the instrument into tightly defined tonal worlds. This work, as well as the slightly more expansive Farewell to Stromness, fills the role of entr'actes in the program between the larger orchestral pieces; they are beautifully played by guitarist Sean Shibe. An Orkney Wedding is at the end, balanced by the opening concert overture, Ebb of Winter, a work with overtones of ecological collapse, and the central Last Door of Light is another work with connections to Orkney. The enthusiasm of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and its youthful conductor Ben Gernon in this music is hard to overstate; they make it clear that however fashions may change, the music of Peter Maxwell Davies will be around for a long time to come.    

03 December 2016