JOHN MCCABE (b.1939): Les martinets noirs for 2 Violins and String Orchestra, Caravan for String Orchestra, Rainforest I for Chamber Ensemble, Rainforest II for Trumpet and Strings.
Catalogue Number: 09O071
Reference: CDLX 7290
Description: These pieces were all inspired by some aspect of the natural world, long a source of inspiration for the composer. The concerto's title refers to swifts, nature's avian acrobats, and consists of two highly energetic outer movements that brilliantly describe the controlled chaos of flocks of the birds wheeling and plunging in flight, framing an English-sounding pastoral over which the soloists continue to describe vertiginous arcs, disturbing the tonal calm of the orchestral material. The two Rainforest pieces were suggested by the subtropical rainforests of Australia. The tonal-sounding harmony of both is derived from a familiar deice of the composer's: a complex chord which is exhaustively explored, providing the scales on which the material is based, and providing tonal centers at moments of resolution - which McCabe allows sparingly, his music typically charged with a buoyant dissonance and absence of resolution. Rainforest II is mostly slow and dense of texture, suggesting languid heat and sultry atmosphere, the long, lyrical melismatic solo lines entwined in the texture like vines. The ensemble piece is lighter in texture and more active, with the instruments divided into groups, each with is own material. A desert caravan approaching from a great distance through a featureless landscape is the subject of the final piece, which accumulates peripheral detail and volume as the basic material advances with steady, measured tread. Harriet Mackenzie, Philippa Mo (violins), Angela Whelan (trumpet), Orchestra Nova; George Vass.