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Scotland At Night

Laudibus / Brewer
Release Date: 07/12/2011 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34060   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  TraditionalTom CunninghamJames MacMillanHoward Skempton,   ... 
Performer:  Michael BradleyBeth MackayLisa SwayneThomas Laing-Reilly
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

What a joy! Bravo Delphian! This is a superbly sung and recorded disc of ravishing music, ranging from the granitic mediaeval triptych of Ronald Stevenson to the honeyed close harmonies of Tom Cunningham’s two cycles - ‘Scotland at Night’ and ‘The Painter’s Eye’. It’s an entertainment that succeeds in presenting something of Scotland without a trace of the ubiquitous tartan.

The music is sung by the choir ‘Laudibus’, one of the best choirs I have heard in years. The felicities of the performance faithfully and expertly reproduced on this disc. What we have across approaching 65 minutes is a collaboration between composers, choir and director and the writer/poet Alexander McCall Smith. The twin themes of Scotland and night
Read more are expressed in the delightfully idiosyncratic verses of the poet McCall Smith as well as the more familiar Burns. ‘Serendipities’ - the description is that of the writer of the perceptive liner-notes. Serendipities abound in such delightful inventions as a ‘village hall dance set to the music of a reel’. Raeburn’s minister glides abstractedly to the strains of ‘Les Patineurs’. Also glimpsed are: ‘the sudden sunburst of a Shetland summer’ and the wriggle of trout tails in a highland tarn’ - all poetic images captured in music that is immediately appealing. The two sequences by McCall Smith and the Edinburgh composer Tom Cunningham were the inspirational impetus for the collection.

Apart from the strangely effective setting of ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ for counter-tenor by Arvo Pärt, recalling the tracker sounds of an ancient country organ, the further choice falls upon two of Scotland’s foremost composers - Stevenson and MacMillan. Stevenson’s powerful triptych is a compelling setting of the oldest known poetry in Scotland. ‘Qwhan Alexander our kynge was Dede’ and the paean ‘Fredome’ - the very word is “ thundered like bells first tolling then pealing” (The description is that of James Reid Baxter in his essay on Stevenson’s choral music in ‘Ronald Stevenson - a Symposium’ edited by Colin Scott-Sutherland (Toccata Press 2005)) - frame the central lament and its agonised and impassioned cries of ‘Allace’. 

MacMillan also laments in a setting of ‘My love is like a red red rose’ (under the title ‘So Deep’) with its spectral and misty unresolved harmony. His setting of ‘The Gallant Weaver’ is a small masterpiece of choral writing - a quasi-psalm tune of his own devising threaded (‘woven’?) through a complex tapestry of sound recalling the precentor and congregation of the Highland church.

The magical opening of the disc - a setting by John Powell of ‘Dream Angus’ and the concluding mirage of the crying gulls - a masterly touch of the actual gulls’ cries and the lapping of water - encompass aspects of Scotland epitomised in the nostalgia that is its characteristic voice.

-- Colin Scott-Sutherland, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Dream Angus by Traditional
Performer:  Michael Bradley ()
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Scotland at Night, for chorus by Tom Cunningham
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 11 Minutes 18 Secs. 
So Deep by James MacMillan
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; Scotland 
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 3 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Address to Edinburgh, for chorus by Howard Skempton
Performer:  Beth Mackay ()
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: Contemporary 
Date of Recording: 05/21/2009 
Venue:  Prestonkirk, East Linton 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
The Gallant Weaver by James MacMillan
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Scotland 
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 5 Minutes 31 Secs. 
The Painter's Eye, for chorus by Tom Cunningham
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 9 Minutes 55 Secs. 
A Medieval Scottish Triptych, for chorus by Ronald Stevenson
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon, folk song by Traditional
Performer:  Lisa Swayne ()
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1792; Scotland 
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 2 Minutes 23 Secs. 
The Seagull, tone-poem for chorus by John Hearne
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
My Heart's in Highlands by Arvo Pärt
Performer:  Beth Mackay (), Thomas Laing-Reilly (Organ)
Conductor:  Mike Brewer
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000 
Date of Recording: 03/30/2009 
Venue:  St Cuthbert's Parish Church, Edinburgh 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 

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