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McClelland: The Revenge of Hamish, Etc / Appling


Release Date: 11/25/2003 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 614   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William McClelland
Performer:  Deborah JaminiDiane Marazzi
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling SingersWilliam Appling Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The music ranges far and wide on this disc of choral works by William McClelland, embracing everything from Scottish folklorism and pop to many-layered, traditional a cappella writing. Whatever the style, the composer finds lucid and evocative solutions to the challenges posed by the poems, all in English, which are set with such skill that it is almost possible to forgo the texts in the booklet.

The 14 selections range from sonnets to more extended works, including a striking ballad, The Revenge of Hamish, with words by 19th-century American poet Sidney Lanier. The narrative is violent and even harrowing, full of atmosphere and dramatic incident, and McClelland deftly employs folk elements to achieve local colour.
Read more /> Elsewhere, the composer's fertile contrapuntal imagination can be heard in a varied array of shorter pieces, notably the a cappella Five Sonnets for Men's Voices, set to texts by Millay, Berryman, Aiken, E.E. Cummings and Wilbur. The last poet also provides the inspiration for A Wood, a dream of a tonal and vocal landscape with chorus and wind quintet joining rapturous, piquant forces.

The Ballad of Don and Dan recounts the tale of a homicidal father and son in Montana in 1984. Ian Frazier's text encourages McClelland to go eclectic and gospel-tinged vernacular, which he does with a winning vengeance. The story isn't pretty, but the music works. The William Appling Singers and Orchestra perform each piece with keen attention to words, blend and phrasing, and the instrumentalists are exceptional advocates for McClelland's appealingly direct manner of expression.

- GRAMOPHONE, July, 2004


American composer William McClelland came of age in the late1950s and early 1960s, as did I. It was a heady time. I quote from McClelland’s notes for this release: “I was lucky to be part of a family with a wide range of musical interests—from big band and early jazz to standards and Broadway show tunes to opera and other classical music. During these years my older brother David and I also explored different music and recordings on our own, listening to composers and performers like John Fahey, Ma Rainey, Sonny Terry, Wanda Landowska, Julian Bream, Spike Jones, Ken Nordine, Duane Eddy and Fats Domino. Once when I was eleven, David came home after being away at school for several months and brought recordings of the Bart?k quartets and the ragtime composer Joseph Lamb. . . .” His experiences mirror mine. My earliest record collecting was similarly wayward. I discovered Mozart, Gershwin, The Dell Vikings, Bix Beiderbecke, Beethoven, Elvis, and Stravinsky pretty much at the same time. In my blissful ignorance, I didn’t realize that I was enjoying music from several market-defined categories, and that those categories were supposed to be mutually exclusive. I am happy to say that my blissful ignorance is still in full flower.

McClelland, like so many composers of our moment, is fully at home in a multiplicity of styles, and we are treated to a wide range of them on this release—from the tonally ambivalent parallel harmonies of Song for the Rainy Season, the pop-inflections of The Ballad of Don and Dan, the rarefied hymnody (sometimes jazz inflected) of the Five Sonnets for Men’s Voices and the ecologically inspired Collect Pond, the symphonic grandeur of A Wood, the offhand counterpoint of Wolf Moon…to the ethnically Scottish flavors of The Revenge of Hamish. Withal, a distinctively American composer’s voice emerges, and it is both an imaginative and compelling one.

The Ballad of Don and Dan, inspired by a local newspaper account of a crime in Montana in 1984, and The Revenge of Hamish, motivated by a section of a 19th-century Scottish novel by William Black, are the two major pieces on this offering. Both show McClelland to be an accomplished balladeer able to sustain a prolix narrative through time. Some of this program is a cappella. Other numbers offer diverse instrumentations that deftly underscore the subtexts of the poems. In all cases, that point where language ends and music begins is magically blurred.

The choral work is excellent and the instrumentalists play with both exactitude and enthusiasm, revealing a composer who is more than worthy of our attentions.

Charles Ives pioneered this concept of integrating the pop music of his time (hymns, parlor tunes, patriotic airs, ragtime, etc.) into his symphonic creations, and here William McClelland, in his homage’s to the musics of our time, continues that hallowed tradition.

William Zagorski, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Song for the Rainy Season by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers,  William Appling Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 7 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
The Ballad of Don and Dan by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers,  William Appling Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 10 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Sonnets (5) for Men's Voices by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 9 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
A wood by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers,  William Appling Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Collect Pond by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: English 
6.
Wolf Moon by William McClelland
Performer:  Deborah Jamini (Piano)
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: English 
7.
Dark Clouds Bring Waters by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
The Revenge of Hamish by William McClelland
Performer:  Diane Marazzi (Piano)
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 19 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
In that part of the young year by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
10.
Good Speaking - A Benediction Song by William McClelland
Conductor:  William Appling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Appling Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; USA 
Venue:  New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

Song for the Rainy Season
The Ballad of Don and Dan
5 Sonnets: No. 1. Oh, Think Not I Am Faithful to a Vow!
5 Sonnets: No. 2. I Expect You from the North
5 Sonnets: No. 3. Green, Green and Green Again
5 Sonnets: No. 4. I have found what you are like
5 Sonnets: No. 5. June Light
A Wood
Collect Pond
Wolf Moon
Dark Clouds Bring Waters
The Revenge of Hamish
In That Part of the Young Year
Good Speaking - A Benediction Song

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