COMPOSERS: Sally Beamish
ALBUM TITLE: Sally Beamish: The Singing
WORKS: The Singing; A Cage of Doves; Under the Wing of the Rock; Reckless; Trumpet Concerto
PERFORMER: James Crabb (accordion), Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Branford Marsalis (saxophone); Royal Scottish National Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: BIS 2156 (hybrid CD/SACD)
She might have been born in London, but whether in the Pibroch-inspired opening of the second movement of her accordion concerto The Singing, (a meditation on the Highland Clearances), Branford Marsalis’s lament-infused saxophone in Under the Wing of the Rock, or the more urban, jazz-inflected sense of alienation that informs the Trumpet Concerto, Sally Beamish has the Gaelic art of keening down to a fine art.
Scotland is her adopted home, and its history and culture course through music that so often finds its starting point in something extra-musical – yet transcends the creative straightjacket of a ‘programme’. Thus the anguish of displacement stalks The Singing – executed with effortless fluency and contagious flair by its dedicatee James Crabb. And, having given the premiere in 2003, Håkan Hardenberger revisits the Trumpet Concerto with streetwise regard for its haunted cityscapes – the finale incorporating percussion derived from abandoned cars and scaffolding poles. The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland dons accompanying hard hats with aplomb, while the remainder of the disc falls to the RSNO which rises attentively to Martyn Brabbins’s illuminating and incisive direction. Only the jeu d’esprit of 2012 Reckless, cautious and constrained, fails to live up to its name. Handsomely recorded, BIS’s ever-expanding Beamish discography notches up another milestone. Paul Riley