ALBUM TITLE: McGuire
WORKS: Elegy; Euphoria; String Trio; Entangled Fortunes; Quintet 2
PERFORMER: Red Note Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34157
Glaswegian composer Eddie McGuire (born 1948) juggles contemporary composition with Scottish folk flute-playing and left-wing activism. McGuire’s music is duly coloured by these diverse worlds, his works richly infused with political commentary and the spirit and verve of the Gaelic folk tradition. Performed with glorious exuberance by Red Note Ensemble, the disc offers a lively collection of McGuire’s chamber music.
Much of the disc is highly affirming, notably Euphoria (1980), a delicious, effervescent work composed at the height of Cold War frost and the Thatcherite government, when it struck McGuire there was ‘a need to go against the current tide of pessimism … to be life-asserting and optimistic’. The resulting post-minimalist composition for sextet of strings, winds, piano and percussion fizzes and sings in a spirited rejection of ‘glib talk of imminent holocausts’. Other featured works include the complex, near-atonal Quintet 2 (1987) and the boldly lyrical Elegy (1991) for piano trio. Entangled Fortunes (2002) for clarinet, violin, cello and piano was composed in tribute to economist and Nobel laureate Sir James Mirrlees. Opening with plaintive counterpoint, the work concludes with skipping dance rhythms, evoking philosopher David Hume’s ‘fellow feeling’ in a musical account of ‘the common good’: a conceit nobly communicated throughout this profound, spirited disc. Kate Wakeling