Maxwell Davies: Strathclyde Concerto No. 9; Strathclyde Concerto No. 10; Carolísima

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COMPOSERS: Maxwell Davies
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Strathclyde Concerto No. 9; Strathclyde Concerto No. 10; Carolísima
PERFORMER: Scottish CO/Peter Maxwell Davies
Written for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and made possible by enlightened regional funding, the Strathclyde Concertos of Peter Maxwell Davies tell you much about their composer. Their musical language complements that of his symphonies, exploring new formal patterns within the outlines of a standard genre. They are also evidence of Max’s tenacity. Writing ten such pieces in less than a decade might have exhausted a lesser figure. Yet a tough technique and unfailing inspiration have enabled him to complete the course and, moreover, the music retains an ozone freshness.


That’s what you get with the Tenth Strathclyde, a concerto for orchestra that’s as bracing as a gale on the rugged Orkney cliffs. Beneath thunderous timpani, whooping horns aspire ever higher, to be stifled by a frozen Lento, then revived by a ceilidh finale that ends the cycle with a disturbing tritone. The Ninth Strathclyde rings changes of texture on a solo group of woodwind extras, from piccolo to contrabassoon. It folds many moods within a seamless movement, and is a perfect foil to its extrovert successor on this disc. The bonus is the delightful wedding serenade, one of Max’s Gaelic medleys, Carolísima. Nicholas Williams