Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Reeling with Delight

British composer Andrew Toovey (b.1962) has certainly taken to YouTube, setting up his own channel to offer listeners to opportunity to hear and see many of his scores. Thank you, sir!

As an example of Andrew's work, please try his Lament, Strathspey and Reel for solo violin. As you might expect from the title, there's a strong Scottish folksong influence to this piece. The beautiful Lament takes up most of the piece and is largely quiet, except for occasionally outbursts. It initially floats a modal melody over a near-continuous drone but later the lament begins to rise up the registers of the violin, eventually ending up being played in high harmonics, thus giving the music a strange quality - as if the listener is hearing the music sung by the Aurora Borealis as it passes overhead. The pace then quickens for the Strathspey, a dance in 4/4 time marked by the 'Scotch snap' - an exaggerated rhythm comprising a short note followed by a long one, here buzzing like an angry reincarnation of Bartok's fly. The Reel, a fast dance marked by more even quaver/semiquaver movement and accents on the first and third notes, then strikes up and is gradually whirled to an exciting climax.

If you now fancy hearing another strathspey and reel, then please try the first two movements of Malcolm Arnold's Scottish Dances for orchestra. The first movement is a strathspey, the second a reel,  while the third is a very beautiful Hebridean song and the finale a Highland fling.

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