JOHN MCDONALD (b.1959): Something Bold to Start With, Op. 541/64, Nervous Waiting (Tetradactyllic), Op. 455/23, You Don’t Love Me, Op. 446/12, Three-Parter, Op. 455/102, Variants on Jim Wilson’s Lanterne Melody, Op. 455/28, Epicede for Louise Bourgeois, Op. 455/38, Poco “Harsh”, Poco “Nice”, Op. 455/74, Digital Dance Fetish: An African Allegro, Op. 455/118, Lento appassionato for David Holzman, Op. 475/163, Monet’s Anguish, Op. 420/49, Moonesinghe Obsequy, Op. 388, To Play with No Devices, Op. 592/59, 14, Forthright Wednesday Poem Composed after Hearing Palestinian Notebook (As Recorded by D. Holzman), Op. 475, No. 212, Held Dear, Op. 614/7, Offering in tribute, Op. 420/6, Deep Disappointment, Op. 614/2.
Catalogue Number: 06V060
Description: McDonald seems to have made a speciality of miniature character pieces (if his opus numbers are anything to go by; "Op. 475, No. 212" is a typical example from this recital), and based on this selection there appears to be no danger of his running out of original ideas any time soon. His writing is clear, in strong strokes and shapes, and always very accessible; tonality is never far away, though there is dissonance aplenty when required. Each piece has a pithy, cleverly chosen title that tells you exactly what it is, and the music then proceeds to describe that intention, narrative, occasion, or feeling with concise precision (usually for around three minutes). The effect might be likened to an artist travelling around producing an endless sequence of postcard-sized charcoal sketches inspired by whatever happened to be in view at the time, sometimes more, sometimes less complex in subject-matter or execution, but always vividly representative of their subject. The individual works are self-contained, working out their material to produce a satisfying image and then ending; there is no sense of a cycle or elaboration of particular techniques or themes being intended as in the many series of preludes, fugues, or études with which the repertory is amply supplied. The longest piece, by some distance, is an in memoriam work which demonstrates that the composer can develop a wider range of material more extensively and to considerable emotional effect when he so chooses. An appealing and original voice, of which we could presumably in principle hear much more in a very extensive series of recordings, which would be a most attractive prospect. David Holzman (piano).