Recommendations from the Celtic Fringe
Follow the links below for a full performance and the first ten pages of each score of three contrasting works from Scotland and Ireland to add a touch of celtic nostalgia to programmes in 2011.
The Lost Mountain - 9 minutes
The Lost Mountain by William Sweeney was commissioned by the Inverness Wind Ensemble together with Lochaber High School Concert Band in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, although the work commemorates more the aftermath of that battle and its long-lasting effects on the people of the Scottish Highlands and Islands rather than any celebrations of the martial arts. The title is borrowed from the poem of the same name by Sorley MacLean, written after the second world war. In it, the poet laments the despoilation of the landscapes of his youth on the island of Raasay during that war as a potential symbol of the wider human losses of those years. I first heard this fine work in a recording conducted by Brian Boddice on a recording put together by my good friend, the late Brian Duguid, and immediately wanted to publish it. Starting and ending with a sad, forlorn elegy for solo oboe, the central section continues the nostalgic mood apart from a brief outburst of nationalist pride.
Blasket Dances - 15 minutes
Blasket Dances was the first of the series of commissions in memory of my third son, William, who died in an accident in the Pyrenees in 2001. Matthew Taylor, the composer writes:
The Blasket Islands lie on the very fringe of Europe, exposed and unprotected in the Atlantic few miles off the Dingle peninsular off South West Ireland.. In its time, Blasket folklore was as rich as any in Ireland. On a visit I was particularly captivated by some recordings of solo songs, and dances played by violin and accordion. Enthusiastic grunts, cheers, tappings of feet and clinking of glasses frequently punctuated the songs, whose subjects embraced time-honoured themes of love and nature
This work plays without a break A slow introduction evokes the Blaskets seen today from the mainland, craggy, deserted, yet strangely impressive, till the first dance is announced by clarinets, initially in the distance but gaining power and force with each subsequent repetition. A brief interlude, begun on horns and trombones, eases into the second dance, based on an old Blasket love song. This is a theme and variations, the theme shared between solo oboe and bassoon, while the other instruments enter successively to adorn the tune in two variations. A second interlude featuring tuned percussion, leads into the Third Dance, a Romance, intoned by trumpets. The last interlude is the longest but the most contemplative in character. It comprises a calm chorale on trombones, tuba and flute, and a gentle fugato. A brief oboe cadenza leads into the final dance, a vigorous Blasket gigue, fully scored, which gains energy and momentum as it progresses
Tipperary Rhapsody - 9.30 Minutes
Fergal Carroll has a happy knack of transforming folk music of folk-like tunes into a tapestry cast in traditional forms. After a pompous almost raucous start, we are treated to a sequence of beautifully treated tunes, in an extended work at about Grade 4 level.