The Shadow Side

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Edward McGuire,James MacMillan,John Maxwell Geddes,John McLeod,Judith Bingham,Lewis Forbes,Paul Mealor & Roderick Williams
LABELS: Delphian
WORKS: Songs by Judith Bingham, Lewis Forbes, John Maxwell Geddes, James MacMillan, Edward McGuire, John McLeod, Paul Mealor & Roderick Williams
PERFORMER: Irene Drummond (soprano), Iain Burnside (piano)


As Jane Manning has been to London’s new music, so more recently Irene Drummond to Scotland’s, her bright timbre and agile vocal movement the inspiration for many composers. This collection is of songs Drummond has commissioned, premiered or championed. All composed in the last 30 years, the newest and the oldest are among the highlights. Lewis Forbes, born in 1987, sets MacDiarmid in eloquent tonal style, his phrases following the rhythms of the words and the piano adding unexpected doublings and counterpoints which prepare the way for more surprises in his Burns setting. James MacMillan’s Three Soutar Settings, in contrast, are the best known pieces here and their deeply rooted melodies and spare accompaniments make the usual breathtaking impact.


Elsewhere the range is great, the subject most often love, the mood often withdrawn: Edward McGuire’s spiky, touching cycle The Web, and Paul Mealor’s long melodies surrounded by quietly ecstatic chords, are poles apart. Upping the energy levels, Judith Bingham conflates Joy Finzi and RD Blackmore into a compact sung tone poem, and John McLeod cries out for freedom and justice with poetry from prison by Irina Ratushinskaya. Iain Burnside shares the credit for performances of total focus. Robert Maycock