COMPOSERS: Davies,Peter Maxwell
WORKS: Strathclyde Concerto No. 7; Strathclyde Concerto No. 8; A Spell for Green Corn: The MacDonald Dances
PERFORMER: Duncan McTier (double bass), Ursula Leveaux (bassoon)Scottish CO/Peter Maxwell Davies
CATALOGUE NO: 13962 DDD
The series of ten concertos which Peter Maxwell Davies has been writing for the principals of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has not proved popular in all critical quarters. But I’m sure that the two soloists on this fine new recording will thank him for adding to the otherwise minimal solo repertoire for their instruments.
Few composers have tried to tackle the balance difficulties involved in a double bass concerto; Maxwell Davies negotiates the problem by sparing use of a small orchestra, and by emphasising the singing, legato tone of his eloquent soloist, Duncan McTier. The result is a 21-minute work of some beauty. That similarly neglected instrument, the bassoon, is also taken seriously as a ‘singer of songs’, in place of its customary role as a comedian. This work is somewhat longer, and perhaps there is too much time spent ruminating. But Maxwell Davies provides plenty of opportunities for a charismatic soloist to seize centre stage, and on several occasions invites the bassoon’s dark-hued cousins, the bass clarinet and contrabassoon, to join the soloist. In A Spell for Green Corn the solo fiddler (James Clark) wanders among the orchestra to ‘bless the crops’, in folksy music which is attractive and ear-catching. Stephen Maddock