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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Land of the Mountain and the Flood; Jeanie Deans (excerpts); The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow
PERFORMER: Janice Watson, Lisa Milne (soprano), Jamie MacDougall (tenor), Peter Sidhom, Stephen Gadd, Graeme Danby (bass); Scottish Opera Chorus, BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins
From the arresting opening, a real Scottish atmosphere is immediately established by the BBC Scottish SO’s fine accented playing. Brabbins’s firm rhythmic drive propels a really stirring reading of Land of the Mountain and the Flood, Hamish MacCunn’s best-known work. You can visualise granite crags, lochs and glens. Wagner echoes through the Highlands in The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow, which is great fun: bold, epic, heroic music of knightly gallantry and dastardly deeds. The Ship o’ the Fiend carries the devil and the heroine, whom he has seduced away from her husband, to hell. This is exceptionally fine, graphic music – sensual, scary, darkly beautiful. It is amazing that MacCunn’s opera Jeanie Deans has never been recorded. On this evidence, a complete recording is imperative. Among an outstanding cast, Lisa Milne is a splendid Effie, determinedly asserting her innocence in her baby’s murder; so too is Peter Sidhom, her unforgiving, reproachful father. A glorious rendition of the lustily patriotic The Lay of the Last Minstrel by a commanding Stephen Gadd and the chorus rounds off another consistently, thoroughly enjoyable Hyperion disc of discovery. The sound is demonstration class with a floorboard-cracking bass end. Ian Lace