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A Year of Composition

2011/2012 have been years of extraordinary compositional activity for John McCabe. Having written the Clarinet Quintet La Donna  for Linda Merrick/Kreutzer Quartet; a Horn Quintet (David Pyatt/Sacconi Quartet); a short orchestral piece, A Sounding Chord, for the Novello Bicentenary Concert at the Royal Festival Hall (LPO/David Hill); Silver Nocturnes for baritone and string quartet (commissioned in memory of Simon Boosey and performed by Marcus Farnsworth/Alberni Quartet in March 2012; and a short solo piano work, Berceuse, for the Birmingham Chamber Music Society (premièred by the composer in February 2012), McCabe then turned his attention to a Trumpet Concerto Primavera (premièred by Simon Desbruslais and The Orchestra of the Swan/Kenneth Woods, in Stratford upon Avon, in June 2012) and a new string quartet, his 7th, entitled Summer eves, which was premièred by the Carducci Quartet at the 2012 Presteigne Festival.

McCabe is now working on a Psalm-Cantata for the English Baroque Choir. His earlier works continue to gain performances and recordings. Among the latter, Dutton Epoch have just issued (September 2012) a CD by conductor George Vass with Orchestra Nova of Rainforest I, Rainforest II with Angela Whelan as soloist, a new version of Caravan for string orchestra, and the concerto Les martinets noirs for two violins and strings, with Retorica (Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo) as soloists. Retorica recently released their new recording of Spielend for two violins on the NMC label, having performed it widely in recent months, including the Presteigne Festival and numerous performances on a tour of China. A delightful recent event was a concert at the Royal Academy of Music, when an outstanding brass concert directed by Elgar Howarth entitled The Manchester Set included music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and John McCabe (Desert II: Horizon and Rounds for brass quintet). More brass music was featured in the Canterbury Sounds New Festival, with Cloudcatcher Fells performed by Frank Renton and Grimethorpe Colliery Band, as well as the vocal work Scenes in America deserta featuring in the King's Singers' concert at the Festival. The King's Singers continue to perform this work widely on their international tours, as do Stile Antico with the work written for them, Woefully arrayed. McCabe's piano music has also been receiving attention – following the Park Lane Group's January season, which included a masterclass on his piano music and also performances of McCabe's music, several of the young pianists have been performing his work widely, including Olga Stezhko, Jessica Wei Zhu, Yasmin Rowe and Sally Wigan.

Details of new recordings can be found in the news section of the website.

 

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