Scotland’s national orchestras record Scotland-inspired works

The Singing

RSNO and NYOS collaborate for new Sally Beamish recording,
featuring
Håkan Hardenberger, Branford Marsalis and James Crabb

A new recording of orchestral music by Scotland-based composer Sally Beamish, supported by Creative Scotland, will be released on the BIS label on 25 September in the U.K., with a North American release date of 9 October, and features collaborations with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland (NYOS), conductor Martyn Brabbins and three of the greatest living soloists, whose playing was a major inspiration in all three works.

Beamish’s Trumpet Concerto, which received its premiere by NYOS at the 2003 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London is recorded for the first time, with its dedicatee, Gramophone Hall of Fame 2015 nominee Håkan Hardenberger as soloist, often recognised as the greatest trumpet soloist today. The work itself is partly inspired by Italo Calvino's book Invisible Cities, which reflects aspects of the organised architecture but seeming randomness of city life. The final movement utilises scrap metal and scaffolding pipes as percussion instruments which were sourced from Glasgow scrapyards by members of the NYOS percussion section.

Three-time GRAMMY© Award-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis is the soloist for Under the Wing of the Rock, a work for Saxophone and Strings, originally commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble in 2006 for violist Lawrence Power, and rearranged for Marsalis, whose playing had sparked the jazz inflections in the piece. The work takes as its starting point a story from ‘Carmina Gadelica’ – Gaelic songs and prayers collected by 19th century Scottish author Alexander Carmichael – referring to a lullaby sung by a young mother to her child, fleeing the massacre at Glencoe.

A Cage of Doves is an orchestral tone poem inspired by the historic and cultural links between Norway and Orkney, particularly St Magnus, as depicted in George Mackay Brown’s novel Magnus.  The piece was commissioned by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, and refers to the northern light and seascapes which pervade Mackay Brown’s writing.  Throughout the piece, fragments of the ancient Hymn to St Magnus are heard.  It is dedicated to composer, conductor and former Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Beamish’s mentor when she first arrived in Scotland, and the piece was recorded in his 80th birthday year.

The Singing, for accordion and orchestra, was commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to mark the composer’s 50th birthday, and is one of many works generously supported by her long-time patrons Beryl Calver-Jones and Gerry Mattock.  It is dedicated to the accordion soloist James Crabb, in acknowledgement of his Scottish roots, and reflects the devastation of the Highland Clearances.  The title refers not only to the wealth of Gaelic song and psalm, but also to birdsong, pibroch and, in the sense of the Gaelic seinn (singing, sounding or playing), to the voices of instruments and of the land itself.

Reckless is a short, dance-inspired orchestral showpiece, originally commissioned by the Southbank Sinfonia to celebrate the creative energy of this band of young players.

On the release of the new recording, composer Sally Beamish said, “The music is inspired not only by my adopted homeland, but also by the exceptional musicians with whom I’ve been privileged to work. This disc represents a new development in my ongoing and fruitful relationship with BIS, with these outstanding orchestras, and with Martyn, who has premiered many of my works with insight and flare. It means a great deal to me that this has come about, that these stunning soloists have contributed their fabulous performances, and that the project has received such generous support from Creative Scotland.”

Ian Smith, Head of Music, Creative Scotland: “Creative Scotland is proud to support this unique recording celebrating the works of Sally Beamish. Featuring the RSNO and NYOS conducted by Martyn Brabbins, it highlights three of her most inspiring works for virtuoso soloists; Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Branford Marsalis (Saxophone) and James Crabb (Accordion). We are sure that this recording will bring the works of Scotland-based Sally Beamish to an even wider global audience than her music already and deservedly enjoys.”