WORKS: Tryst; Adam’s Rib; Í (A Meditation on Iona); They Saw the Stone Had Been Rolled Away
PERFORMER: Scottish CO/Joseph Swensen
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1019
James MacMillan’s music is being served extremely well by the BIS label. Following hot on the heels of a pair of discs containing his Easter trilogy (The World’s Ransoming, the Cello concerto and Symphony `Vigil’) comes another impressive release featuring works written for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The most substantial and best known piece is the aborbing tone poem Tryst, which has been recorded twice before. It is by no means the case that the ensemble which commissions a work is its most worthy advocate, but this powerful music is patently part of the lifeblood of the SCO and it is hard to imagine a performance more successfully combining fluency with conviction.
The three remaining works are all recorded here for the first time. MacMillan skillfully manipulates sonority in the brass quintet Adam’s Rib, whilst percussion is added to the brass for They saw the Stone had been Rolled Away, with insistent bass drum thwacks underpinning this forceful evocation of awe. Percussion also helps to drive the earthy intensity of Í. It is a `Meditation on Iona’, but those who think that meditative music equates with aural and spiritual wallpaper should note that the conviction behind MacMillan’s music makes it impossible to ignore. Christopher Dingle