ALBUM TITLE: McLeod
WORKS: The Song of Icarus; The Song of Dionysius; A Moment in Time; The Song of Phryne; The Song of Leda
PERFORMER: Red Note Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34155
The ‘late’ period of the Scottish composer John McLeod, 80 last year, is proving exceptionally productive. Here we have five bold and bright chamber pieces, chiefly inspired by mythologies from the ancient world. No one here, however, is wearing a toga, least of all the courtesan Phryne, pungently celebrated by clarinet, piano and an unusually candid pre-recorded voice lustily gurgling and sighing. That add-on seems the one artistic error in a collection notable for its instrumental acuity and the vivacity of McLeod’s musical language – one audibly coloured by Messiaen and his French contemporaries, and the free-spirited Lutoslawski.
The members of Red Note Ensemble, superb Scottish specialists in the contemporary, deliver every piece with precision and relish. Percussionist Tom Hunter takes the lead in the wacky, confrontational Song of Dionysius, written for Evelyn Glennie. Jacqueline Shave’s violin memorably imitates Icarus, flying too high; while the 2002 A Moment of Time, written for the forces of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, ponders on the 9/11 attacks with fractured turbulence, topped with a calming threnody and a memorable coda, quiet and juddering. Geoff Brown