LABELS: Vienna Modern Masters
WORKS: Visions from the North: The Gokstad Ship; Lieder der Jugend; A Dramatic Landscape; The Whispered Name
PERFORMER: Jane Manning (soprano), Raimund Gilvan (tenor), Andrew Wilson (clarinet); Polish Radio and TV SO, Krakow/John McLeod; Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra/Clark Rundell
CATALOGUE NO: VMM 3026 DDD (distr. TradeLink)
Reports of a musical renaissance in Scotland have generally pivoted on the success of the younger generation of composers – such as James MacMillan and Sally Beamish. So it comes as a revelation that most of the music on this disc was written before 1985 by a man almost thirty years their senior.
Lieder der Jugend is a setting of four poems from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. There are debts to Mahler’s songs (as you might expect), and curious echoes of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale in the last song (‘Der Tamboursg’sell’), but these are just surface similarities in a musical landscape that is lyrical, dramatic, and crafted with great originality.
McLeod’s music is muscular and energetic. The Gokstad Ship begins with a huge, resonant thud, a noise that seems to crop up, like a signature, at intervals throughout the rest of the disc. An exception is ‘Sleep Close to Me’, the last song in The Whispered Name, an expression of grief and tenderness unveiled in six heartbreakingly beautiful minutes.
The recording quality is generally good but scores low because of excessive tape hiss in A Dramatic Landscape and an awkward balance between voice and harp in ‘I’ll not Weep’. Christopher Lambton