Two stunning CDs featuring McCabe’s music are about to be released. The first, out in November 2014, is on Signum Classics SIGCD403, and stars the amazing trumpeter Simon Desbruslais, together with The Orchestra of The Swan, conducted by Kenneth Woods or David Curtis. The CD is entitled Psalm, after a wonderful work by Robert Saxton, also on the CD, together with works by the young composer Deborah Pritchard.
The McCabe work is a Trumpet Concerto, called Primavera, written in 2012 especially for Desbruslais. McCabe says of his work (which utilizes both trumpet and flugelhorn) that ‘the natural impulse … came from considering two aspects of the coming of Spring: the exuberance and vitality of burgeoning new growth, and the flowering (literally!) of the new or refreshed life, as it expands’.
Following on in December is a fascinating compendium on Naxos (8.571370), concentrating on McCabe as composer, pianist, and surprisingly, conductor!. The contents of this CD are the result of enthusiasm and tenacious detective work by the music writer and composer Robert Matthew-Walker, together with Martin Cotton and others, the first-fruits of an arrangement between the British Music Society and Naxos. The recordings are taken from three stages of McCabe’s career, the first being his Symphony No 1 ‘Elegy’, written in 1965 and recorded in 1967 for Pye. Following on from this we have three works for solo piano (Fantasy on a theme of Liszt; Capriccio; and Sostenuto) taken from an RCA LP and performed by McCabe himself. Finally we have an orchestral work written for the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, entitled Tuning, which is the only recorded example of McCabe as a conductor. It is taken from a live performance at Glasgow City Hall, Scotland, in January 1986, and was recorded by Harry Mudd, the other recordings being by Bob Auger. All the recordings have been specially re-mastered for this reissue.