Dillon: Evening Rain; Sgothan; A Roaring Flame; Crossing Over; Come Live With Me; Ti.re-ti.ke-dha; Spleen

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COMPOSERS: Dillon
LABELS: Auvidis Montaigne
WORKS: Evening Rain; Sgothan; A Roaring Flame; Crossing Over; Come Live With Me; Ti.re-ti.ke-dha; Spleen
PERFORMER: Accroche Note
CATALOGUE NO: MO 782037 DDD
The Scottish composer James Dillon, now aged 45, writes music still more famed, in Britain, for its ferocious manner and intimidating complexity than for being actually performed. Abroad, at least in certain quarters, things are different; in France, for instance, he is seen as one of only a handful of living British composers to have established an individual style worthy of international exposure.

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The French label Auvidis Montaigne has now embarked on a Dillon series. ‘James Dillon 1’, devoted to the composer’s two large orchestral scores, Helle Nacht (1986-7) and Ignis noster (1991-2), came out last year. Initially dogged by distribution problems, this disc now richly deserves a wide hearing, for these are two of the finest orchestral works by any living composer in what seem performances of real commitment by the BBC SO under Arturo Tamayo.

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The second volume contains music for small forces written between 1978 and 1984, ably performed by the French group Accroche Note. Though neither as rich as the orchestral works nor as immediately alluring as Dillon’s recent pieces, these seven compositions amply demonstrate a compelling, idiosyncratic brand of modernism which, while undeniably challenging, has an emotional impact both more direct and more varied than many listeners might suppose possible. Keith Potter