John McCabe's innate sympathy with the natural world stretches, in this CD, from high summer in England, via the deserts of Arabia, to the majestic mysteries of the sub-tropical rainforests of Australia, with their buzzing insects and strange birdcalls. Les martinets noirs is the French name for swifts. McCabe describes them as “acrobatic Pucks of the air,” adding that one of his annual delights in summer is to watch them wheeling about in the stratosphere, and then swooping down around trees and chimney pots. The swifts’ screaming call, like children at a fairground, seems to suggest sheer joy in movement, and it is a sad moment when summer begins to wane and one looks into the sky for the swifts only to find they are there no more. Violin duo Retorica (Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo) excel as the acrobatic swifts, while Angela Whelan personifies the spirit of the rainforest in Rainforest II. In Rainforest I, a brilliant chamber group is joined by John McCabe on piano in a large-scale work redolent of the sights and sounds of the rainforests of Queensland. They, and the handpicked Orchestra Nova, perform superbly under the sympathetic baton of George Vass in this CD, which is rounded off with the short string orchestra work, Caravan, inspired by the sight of a caravan approaching in the Arabian desert.
World premiere recordings
Recorded: Henry Wood Hall, London, 22-23 February 2012
“McCabe's many admirers will welcome this release especially for providing - astonishingly - the premiere recordings of the first two of his Rain forest series...Angela Whelan is a commanding and nimble-lipped soloist...Dutton's superb recording does the music full justice, as do the performances, ably directed by one of McCabe's staunchest champions of recent years.”