John McCabe has been blessed with more stunning birthday performances, culminating most recently with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under their Finnish Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds, giving what McCabe has described as 'one of the best performances ever' – this time of his Australian orchestral tone-poem Fire At Durilgai. This work, inspired by a passage in The Tree of Man by the Nobel prize-winning Australian novelist Patrick White, describes how a bush fire gradually engulfs and destroys an old family mansion on the outskirts of the small town of Durilgai. Fire, and burning, resonate of course with McCabe, as a result of his serious childhood accident, being badly burned as a toddler.
The orchestra, under the magnificent Storgårds, played like a dream fulfilled, in a concert including Holst’s Planets, and Birtwistle’s remarkable Endless Parade, with the brilliant trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, in the packed Bridgewater Hall. The concert will be broadcast on BBC R3 in due course.
Earlier in the month, violin duo Retorica (Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo) seemingly scored a triumph on their brief German tour on 21/22 March, when the audience rose to applaud them in the Schloss at Bissingen, and also cheered McCabe’s Spielend (available on NMCD 182 with other violin duo works). Retorica also performed the same programme at the Mozarthaus in Augsberg.