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Macmillan: Piano Concerto no 2, A Scotch Bestiary

> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: The book is opened: Andante —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 1. Ode to a cro-magnon hyena: Adagio —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: A page is turned: Tempo I —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 2. Reptiles and Big Fish [in a small pond]: Largo - Andante - Largo - Andante - Tempo di valse [Allegro] - Andante - Largo —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 3. Her Serene and Ubiquitous Majesty, Queen Bee: Senza misura: Prestissimo possibile, sempre legatissimo - [ - ] - Adagio —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: Another page is turned: Tempo I —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 4. The red-handed, no-surrender, howler monkey: [ - ] - Tempo di marcia —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 5. Uncle Tom Cat and his Chickens: Adagio —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: Yet another page is turned: Tempo I —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 6. Scottish Patriots: [ - ] - [ - ] - Maestoso —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 7. The Reverend Cuckoo and his Parroting Chorus: [ - ] —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: No. 8. Jackass Hackass: Prestissimo possibile [moto perpetuo] —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, caged: The book is closed: Tempo I —
> A Scotch Bestiary - The menagerie, uncaged
> Piano Concerto No. 2 - I. Cumnock fair: Fast
> Piano Concerto No. 2 - II. Shambards: quarter note = c. 60
> Piano Concerto No. 2 - III. Shamnation: Allegro [Tempo di reel]

Album Summary

>MacMillan, James : A Scotch Bestiary, for organ & orchestra
>MacMillan, James : Concerto for Piano no 2, for piano & string orchestra (In memoriam Edwin Muir)
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Composed in 2004 as a specially commissioned ballet score for New York City Ballet, Piano Concerto No. 2 receives its world premiere recording with this Chandos release. It is a highly energetic work - a frenzy of folksong and dance; the first movement, "cumnock fair", is a whirling fantasy of eighteenth-century Scottish dance melodies. "The piece was certainly fun: riotous, at times cacophonous, wittily orchestrated and cleverly structured. It also brilliantly integrated the organ into the orchestra proper. All these things and more merged in the work's second half, a crazy but exciting amalgam..." Los Angeles Daily News

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
James MacMillan's A Scotch Bestiary is 'motivated by the great American cartoon makers who represented human characters in animal form,' says the composer, and is 'inspired by human archetypes and personalities encountered in Scottish life over the years'. The work's playful subtitle of 'Enigmatic variations on a zoological carnival at a Caledonian exhibition' acknowledges debts to Elgar, Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky; indeed, the striding opening theme imitates the metre of (and linking role taken by) 'Promenade' in Pictures atan Exhibition. It's a caustic, loopy and exhilarating showpiece for organ and orchestra.

The Second Piano Concerto is scored for piano and strings, and is in three movements, the first of which, 'Cumnock Fair', initially appeared in 1999. This fretful dance fantasy's original title, 'Hoodicraw Peden', refers to a 17th-century Taliban-esque zealot, the subject of an Edwin Muir poem which witheringly refers to 'Burns and Scott, sham bards of a sham nation', thereby providing the titles for the concerto's remaining movements. 'Shambards' mockingly quotes the waltz from the Mad Scene in Lucia di Lammermoor while the lusty violin reel that launches 'Shamnation' acquires an increasingly desperate energy as it hurtles giddily towards the piano's unhinged, unnerving final flourish.

In both works Wayne Marshall covers himself in glory, as, for that matter, does the BBC Philharmonic under the composer's direction.

The sound is superlative to match.



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Works Details

>MacMillan, James : A Scotch Bestiary, for organ & orchestra
  • Performer: Wayne Marshall [Piano/Organ] (Organ)
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 1 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003-2004

>MacMillan, James : Concerto for Piano no 2, for piano & string orchestra (In memoriam Edwin Muir)
  • Performer: Wayne Marshall [Piano/Organ] (Piano)
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 29 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1999