Tommy Smith, the great Scottish saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator, studied classical orchestration in the 1990s, and has played in plenty of challenging jazz/classical settings. But Modern Jacobite is his most ambitious journey yet, centred on an intricately woven three-movement symphonic work inspired by the Jacobite uprisings; it is bookended by a rapturous tenor-sax improvisation on Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, and by Chick Corea’s famous Children’s Songs interleaved with Smith’s own Bairn’s Songs as personal variations on the same theme. The Jacobite pieces embrace violent, cinematic soundscapes for slewing brass and thundering percussion; deep cello themes that segue into pulsating tenor-sax ruminations; Scottish folk dances that become pipe-toned tenor jigs.
British composer Jonathan Harvey has all the credentials of a classic modernist, and while his music would never be described as making the slightest concession to the New Accessibility of the late 20th century, the attractive, colorful surfaces of his work coupled with unerringly visceral intuitive development makes him a composer who can appeal to more than just hardcore new music aficionados. (…) The BBC Scottish Symphony, led by Ilan Volkov, plays with a confident mastery of the demanding scores and a sensitivity to their mercurial shifts and transformations. NMC's sound is clean, detailed, and present. (The composer recommends that listeners take a pause between the pieces, to surround each with a cleansing silence.)
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins gives invigorating and authoritative performances of William Walton’s masterful symphonies. The musicians balance stunning control with breathtaking energy and character. Following the resounding success of Belshazzar’s Feast, Walton spent three years perfecting his dramatic first symphony. The immensely virtuosic work displays an astounding range of colours and emotional volatility, reflecting the turbulence of Walton’s private life. Despite its fraught gestation—the first performance in 1934 by the London Symphony Orchestra was missing the finale—this work met with an ecstatic critical reception and has remained popular ever since.
As part of Liszt’s anniversary year Hyperion turns to some of the composer’s most underrecorded and underperformed works. Liszt’s piano music is so much in the foreground that his works for orchestra have been almost forgotten. Here we present a fascinating selection.
Hyperion is delighted to present Donald Runnicles, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in his debut on the label. Runnicles commands his orchestra in Bruckner’s most popular symphony—repertoire that is at the heart of his musical life, and in which he has few living equals. Recent concerts of the works of Bruckner and Wagner have received the highest critical praise, acknowledging the orchestra and their conductor as consummate performers of this music.
Albéric Magnard really is the great so-far-undiscovered master of French music. Born in 1865 (the same year as Sibelius, Nielsen and Glazunov), the son of the managing editor of Le Figaro, his reticent personality prevented him from courting fame or even performances of his music.
His four-movement symphonies are substantial in length, cyclic in character, serious, attractively scored, slightly melancholic, and well worth getting to know.