PETER MAXWELL DAVIES (1934-2016): The Last Island for String Quartet, A Postcard from Sanday and A Birthday Card for Jennifer for Piano, String Trio, 2 Nocturnes for Piano Quartet, Lullaby for Violin and Cello, Oboe Quartet, Violin Sonata, String Quartet Movement (All World Premiere Recordings except Violin Sonata).
Catalogue Number: 10T070
Description: These works are from the last decade of the composer's life (aside from the tender little Lullaby, included because it was premiered by the Hebrides Ensemble’s director). During these years Davies turned repeatedly to chamber music for some of his most personal utterances; although imagery of the wild Orkney landscape and of autumnal farewell pervade these late works, so does the optimism that has been a longtime staple of his personality. The major works here are The Last Island, as dramatic and starkly beautiful a naturescape as the title suggests; the trio, with its lovely final section a desolate folk lament (of Davies own devising - many of his late works contain what sound like authentic folk melodies but are in fact original compositions); the powerful 2008 sonata, a robust and characterful work, reflecting the composer's preoccupation with the art, architecture and atmosphere of Rome, including a quoted folksong and many evocations of bells; and the oboe quartet, combining plainsong-derived material with rugged nature-music and 'invented' folk references. In these, and his very last work, the incomplete quartet of which only the movement on this disc (an almost Mahlerian Abschied in miniature) exists, we hear the composer looking back over a long, productive life well-lived, relishing his natural surroundings and facing the future with resignation but no trace of morbid self-pity. Hebrides Ensemble.