Mccabe: The Chagall Windows; Symphony No. 2; Notturni ed alba

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COMPOSERS: Mccabe
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: The Chagall Windows; Symphony No. 2; Notturni ed alba
PERFORMER: Jill Gomez (soprano); Hallé Orchestra/James Loughran, CBSO/Louis Frémaux
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 67120 2 Reissue (1973, 1975)
Sixty this year, John McCabe had – like Gordon Crosse (see Choral & Song) – his period of greatest exposure in the early Seventies, from when all three works here, and their recordings, date. The Chagall Windows’ main problem is its overly sectional structure, despite attempts to impose an overall design, inspired by Marc Chagall’s famous stained-glass windows for a Jerusalem synagogue.

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Those who appreciate well-crafted – and, in particular, expertly orchestrated – mid-century mainstream music with a Romantic tinge will probably enjoy the song cycle Notturni ed alba, with the ravishing Jill Gomez as soprano soloist. The Second Symphony, though more convincing structurally than The Chagall Windows, suffers from similarly undistinguished material. Keith Potter