Notes & Reviews:
British composer John McCabe's colorful ballet score "Edward II" was premiered by the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany in 1995. Edward II ruled medieval England between 1307 and 1327. The score reflects the medieval period using various ancient-sounding melodies, such as the plainchant dirge. However, he mixes old with new, for instance employing an electric guitar to underscore particular moments of tension. This is a world premiere recording of an important work of our own time.
'A gripping score. This exciting recording of such a rich creation brings the atmosphere of the stage leaping out of the speakers' (Birmingham Post)
'Stirringly dramatic, strikingly colourful ... it is good to see McCabe's recent 60th birthday being marked by a number of fine new recordings. This could prove the most widely popular of them all.' (International Record Review)
'A fine performance and excellent presentation make this an essential issue for anybody interested in McCabe's music' (Classic CD)
'Barry Wordsworth gets committed playing from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia ... the best playing they have produced on disc to date. Notes are excellent, as is the recorded sound ... a real winner' (Fanfare, USA)
'McCabe's music communicates with an expressive fervour that easily holds the listener in its thrall over nearly two hours. It's not just the superbly judged orchestration and wealth of memorable invention that impress. Above all, it's McCabe's ability to forge his tightly knit material into a dramatically convincing and organically coherent whole that marks him out as a composer of exceptional gifts ... No raise can be too high for Barry Wordsworth's fluent, pungently theatrical direction, not to mention the unstinting application of the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia (which has well and truly assimilated McCabe's idiom into its bloodstream) (Gramophone)
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Commissioned by the Stuttgart Ballet, choreographed by David Bintley, Edward II is McCabe's third ballet score, and draws its story-line from Christopher Marlowe's eponymous drama and the medieval courtly satire, Le roman de Fauvel.
Quite apart from the meaty intrigue, complex character relationships and psychological pathos of the plot, McCabe's music communicates with a captivating expressive fervour. It isn't just the superbly judged orchestration (colourful extras include triple woodwind and electric guitar) and wealth of memorable invention that impress.
Above all, it's his ability to forge his tightly knit material into a dramatically convincing and organically coherent whole that marks him out as a composer of exceptional gifts. No praise can be too high for Barry Wordsworth's fluent, pungently theatrical direction, not to mention the unstinting application of the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia. The excitingly truthful sound allies razor-sharp focus to a most pleasing bloom, too.
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Works DetailsMcCabe, John : Edward II, ballet in 2 acts
- Conductor: Barry Wordsworth
- Ensemble: Royal Ballet Sinfonia
- Notes: Walthamstow Town Hall, London, England (11/03/1999-11/05/1999)
- Running Time: 1 min. 41 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Form: Ballet
- Written: 1993-1994