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John McCabe (b.1939): Composer, Pianist, Conductor - Symphony No. 1; Liszt Fantasy; et al. / John McCabe, piano; London PO; John Snashall. Nat'l Youth Orch. of Scotland; McCabe

Album Summary

>McCabe, John : Symphony no 1 ("Elegy")
>McCabe, John : Fantasy on a theme of Liszt, for piano
>McCabe, John : Study no 1 (Capriccio), for piano
>McCabe, John : Study no 2 (Sostenuto), for piano
>McCabe, John : Tuning, for orchestra
Performer Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, April 2015
The late John McCabe's superbly articulated piano-playing in his Liszt Fantasy makes the strongest impression. His maverick streak is evident in Tuning, a wry take on the tuning-up process.

This collection brings together several significant recordings of the music of John McCabe, none of which has appeared before on CD. The First Symphony, heard here in its only recording to date, is a work of striking emotional directness and explosive energy. The Fantasy on a Theme of Liszt was described by Harold Truscott as ‘wonderfully organic a concert piece which should interest any pianist worth his salt’. Scored for very large orchestra, Tuning develops layers of texture and sonority of overwhelming richness. This is the only recording of John McCabe as conductor.

Sunday Times, 21st December 2014
McCabe's quick inventiveness [in the Symphony] takes him well beyond the derivative. The youth-orchestral Tuning (1985) is also impressive.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
His Symphony 1 (1965), subtitled Elegy, employs a lyrical theme used cyclically all through the work. The mysterious opening introduces the theme and develops it thoroughly, as does the more intense II. The opening material is then transformed into the finale's brooding Elegy. The central works involve McCabe as pianist. The Fantasy on a Theme of Liszt (1967) for piano solo uses the opening of the Faust Symphony. After a suitably mysterious introduction including inside the piano glissandos (these were the 60s, after all) and the first of many cadenzas, a passage of pounding virtuosity follows and leads to more mystery, complete with Beethovenian moonlight and cosmic trills. The piece concludes with the requisite virtuosity. The later Tuning (1985) is an extended tone poem written for a very talented youth orchestra. The music begins with, as the title indicates, a sort of development of the orchestral tuning process and continues with the tall chords in the starlight; percussion and winds are added with brass, the music picks up and is developed, the opening returns, and the work ends with a flourish. Tuning is from a concert performance. Sound is about what you might expect from these sources.



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Works Details

>McCabe, John : Symphony no 1 ("Elegy")
  • Conductor: John Snashall
  • Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Barking Assembly Hall, London, England (05/03/1967-05/04/1967)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1965

>McCabe, John : Fantasy on a theme of Liszt, for piano
  • Performer: John McCabe (Piano)
  • Conductor: John McCabe
  • Ensemble: National Youth Orchestra of Scotland
  • Running Time: 11 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>McCabe, John : Study no 1 (Capriccio), for piano
  • Performer: John McCabe (Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>McCabe, John : Study no 2 (Sostenuto), for piano
  • Performer: John McCabe (Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1969

>McCabe, John : Tuning, for orchestra
  • Conductor: John McCabe
  • Running Time: 17 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1985