CECILIA MACDOWALL (b.1951): Great Hills for Violin, 2 Flutes and String Orchestra (Madeleine Easton [violin], Kathryn Thomas, Joanna Shaw [flutes]), Pavane for Chamber Orchestra, Theatre of Tango for Baritone, Violin and Chamber Orchestra (Jeremy Huw Williams [baritone], Tamás Kocsis [violin]), Crossing the Bridge for String Orchestra, Rain, Steam and Speed for Chamber Orchestra, Shipping Forecast for Mixed Chorus, Narrator and String Orchestra (Andrew Hobday [narrator], Choir of Merton College, Oxford).
Catalogue Number: 09O079
Reference: CDLX 7292
Description: These engaging and attractive pieces display McDowall's gift for synthesizing a fresh, original tonal vocabulary from a variety of earlier sources without resorting to pastiche (except where used to make a point or deliberate reference). Great Hills is a set of three warmly evocative images of the English countryside. The first features a ritornello that refers to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; the second is a nocturnal pastoral in passacaglia form and the third a lively perpetuum mobile depicting a windmill. Theatre is not the first time McDowall has referenced the tango in her output; this setting of texts by Seán Street evokes the sultry dark flames of the dance, with allusions to Piazzolla. Crossing the Bridge, like Great Hills, evokes time and place; three iconic bridges, one in eastern Europe, with folk allusions; the old London Bridge, with references to a traditional English song and a general feeling of Vaughan Williamsian Englishness; and the bustling activity surrounding Brooklyn Bridge. Rain refers to the famous JMW Turner painting, and also employs a very 'English' vocabulary. Shipping Forecast sets texts with a maritime connection, with choral writing in the English tradition of choral festivals, and atmospheric scene-painting in the frequently ostinato-underpinned orchestral material, evoking the restless waves of the chilly North Sea and the Atlantic. Texts included. Orchestra Nova, Ulster Orchestra (Pavane, Rain... and Theatre); George Vass.