Musgrave: Turbulent Landscapes

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COMPOSERS: Musgrave
LABELS: NMC
WORKS: Turbulent Landscapes: Songs for a Winter’s Evening; Two’s Company
PERFORMER: Lisa Milne (soprano), Evelyn Glennie (percussion), Nicholas Daniel (oboe); BBC Scottish SO; BBC SO/Osmo Vänskä, Jiri Beloháve
CATALOGUE NO: NMC D 153

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NMC celebrated its 20th anniversary with its Songbook set, but this latest disc, featuring a triptych of Thea Musgrave’s works in wonderful performances from all concerned, is typical of what makes the label important.

Two’s Company, a double concerto for percussionist Evelyn Glennie and oboist Nicholas Daniel, typifies the drama inherent in Musgrave’s tonally-based, inventive language. In concert the stage movements of the soloists reflects their initial opposition and gradual harmonious intertwining, but it is also highly effective as a purely musical journey.

Turbulent Landscapes takes its inspiration from paintings by Turner (sadly not reproduced in the booklet), creating six aural canvasses. The pictorial is always apparent, Debussy’s approach being evoked with distant snatches of La Marseillaise; Musgrave has clearly enjoyed constructing scenarios around the paintings.

However, there is a sense here of serving everything on a plate and the resulting set of well-constructed vignettes is unlikely to prompt
the same endless fascination as the pictures.

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Songs for a Winter’s Evening is an endearing song cycle charting a woman’s life and loves through texts by Robert Burns. It draws on the tunes for Burns’s verses, yet these are unmistakably, and beautifully contemporary reminiscences, sung exquisitely by Lisa Milne. Christopher Dingle