- Out of the Silence, for orchestra (16:11)
Concerto for percussion & orchestra
- The Shostakovich Connection, for orchestra (15:28)
Hebridean Dances for orchestra
The music of Scottish composer John McLeod has an attractive quality of seeming to be neo-Romantic but then turning out to be something else altogether. This derives partly from the variety of influences to which he has pointed: Shostakovich on the one hand, and Witold Lutoslawski on the other. The latter is evident in the centerpiece of this release, featuring the great Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who premiered McLeod's "Percussion Concerto" in 1987 and confidently reprises it here, with McLeod himself, aged well over 80, on the baton. It's a fascinating work that overlays Lutoslawski's controlled improvisation on a Bartókian five-movement arch shape. Particularly interesting is the constantly changing role of the percussion soloist, and it is a real pleasure to hear Glennie in music that exploits her powers to the fullest. Elsewhere there is more music rooted in the past but not of it: The "Shostakovich Connection," which uses music from the "Symphony No. 5, Op. 47," and the "String Quartet No. 12, Op. 133," "Hebridean Dances" that hark back to Mendelssohn, and the new "Out of the Silence," taking Carl Nielsen's music as a starting point ("The more deeply I probed into Nielsen, the more I became aware of how the state of silence crops up," says the octogenarian McLeod). This is the only work on the album not conducted by McLeod, and the players give their best. Still it would be good to hear this music played by one of the crack, edgy Scandinavian orchestras, but perhaps that can happen now that the Delphian label has given these remarkable pieces wider exposure.