Magazine article Gramophone

Dutton Explores McCabe's Catalogue of Concertos

Magazine article Gramophone

Dutton Explores McCabe's Catalogue of Concertos

Article excerpt

McCabe (2)

Les martinets noirs (a). Rainforest--I (b); II (c). Caravan (c) Angela Whelan tpt (a) Retorica (Harriet Mackenzie, Philippa Mo) vns Orchestra Nova (b) Ensemble/George Vass Dutton Epoch (M) CDLX7290 (79' * DDD)

Among John McCabe's catalogue of concertos are several double concertos, the most recent being Les martinets noirs ('Swifts', 2003), a helter-skelter three-in-one design for two violins and strings inspired by these 'Pucks of the air' (to quote McCabe). Under George Vass's strong direction, the fine violin duo Retorica deliver a measured account, two minutes longer than the Amsterdam Sinfonietta's first performances but with no want of excitement or virtuosity.

McCabe's many admirers will welcome this release especially for providing--astonishingly -the premiere recordings of the first two of his Rainforest series. The First (1984) is scored for overlapping ensembles of string quartet, piano trio (with McCabe himself at the keyboard) and a second trio of flute, clarinet and glockenspiel, which weave beguiling musical developments and variations on the main material. Rainforest II (2007) is a gripping 23-minute trumpet concerto in mostly moderate tempi. Angela Whelan is the commanding and nimble-lipped soloist.

Orchestra Nova close out the disc alone with Caravan (2011), one of McCabe's 'Desert' pieces, originally a single-span quartet movement for the Gabrieli's 20th anniversary. McCabe's arrangement for the fuller body adds considerably to its dynamic depth of field, opening at the edge of sight/hearing, closing in the full glare of the sun as the desert train passes by. …

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