Histoire du Tango (NSRCD010): Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango has been recorded many times. This recording is like no other. The Frevo Quartet’s arrangement adds depth and sparkle to the original flute and guitar version. These musicians (and they are all excellent) bring the work to life in this performance recorded before an audience at Crail Parish Church in Fife. There is nothing else on this twenty-two-minute CD, and nothing else is needed. A little gem, and presented in a beautifully produced folder. Wonderful.
Tales from the Dark Side
Gordon McPherson, composer
Scottish Flute Trio
The Music Lab
“Trauma? There is a little more to say. How easy it is to suppose that McPherson’s music “represents” trauma, that it “depicts” traumatic experience. (What comfort there would be in this: a trauma seen from a distance.) But in doing this we do music a disservice, we jumble categories and practices, we mistake one art for another: an art of representation for an art of the actual. Music is a performing art, and however abstract and mediated it might be, it lives and thrives in what is actual, the reality of its production. Real breath, spit, fingers, lips, back and arms; real physical and mental control: the real possibility of an error, a trip and a collapse. Risk, uncertainty attend every performance.”
“McPherson, and other composers at the RSAMD, cite the tradition of pop and rock performance – the overtness of bodily and collective commitment, the noise, the vibrant (the compelling, the frightening) extortions of sound, pulse and rhythmic drive, and ask, can these be found in the concert hall? Where, in carpeted, air-conditioned environs of official, institutionally sanctioned culture, is the pulsional body, the thrown body, the hubris? How is the skill and accomplishment of the performer parenthesised? How can the prodigiously endowed contemporary musician be made poor? This CD has three examples of how this is accomplished.” - Dr. Martin Dixon (from the liner notes)
Spiricom was recorded at the Academy Concert Hall, RSAMD, Glasgow, 10th October 2007.
Waltzer was recorded at the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio, RSAMD, Glasgow, 5th November 2007.
Bloodshake was recorded at the Academy Concert Hall, RSAMD, Glasgow, 12th November 2007.
Merula (NSRCD001): Scottish classical guitarist Matthew McAllister has incredible talent as a composer and guitarist. A student from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he knows his stuff, and this instrumental album is sure to soothe any guitar-loving beast. It’s best served with a glass of red wine and a comfy chair. If you’re into listening to more than one instrument, this may not be the album for you. While it’s beautifully composed, all you hear is guitar and not much else. Highlight: ‘Mr. Dowland’s Midnight’—just gorgeous!
In this, the second in a series of themed EPs, Frevo Quartet perform music that is close to home; all the members of the quartet hail from Scotland or Ireland and the music on this new recording reflects that heritage.
Recorded at the Cathedral of The Isles, Millport, 13th and 14th September 2008.
Making of Frevo Quartet’s soon to be released album, Standing Stones.
Histoire du Tango
In this, the first in a series of themed EPs, Frevo Quartet present their stunning new arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango. Recorded live in concert, this dynamic performance exudes the vivacity and excitement of tango music.
Recorded live at Crail Parish Church, 15th March 2008.
Recital (NSRCD004): Recital is a CD where two musicians, Matthew McAllister (guitar) and Aisling Agnew (flute) play a very wide variety of music, from Bach (his sonata BWV1034) to very modern works by Dave Heath, Greg Caffrey and David Fennessy – with plenty of works in between! I found the whole CD quite enthralling, wonderful individual musicianship and yet quite obvious “togetherness”. It was simply amazing how much just these two instruments could achieve, and how much they could put over to the listener. To say it is worth listening to is putting it very mildly! Whether it is the variety of flute-playing demonstrated, or the continuo of the guitar (in the Bach sonata particularly), every note is well worth repeated playing!
I had never heard some of the modern works, but their impact is tremendous, whether it is the power of “Pluck, Blow” (Greg Caffrey) or the mystery of “Continuity Error “ (David Fennessy), and one can easily listen to “Gentle Dreams” (Dave Heath) again and again. These three form the middle part of the whole performance, after that we are back to more well-known music, a
wonderful arrangement of “Carmen Fantasie” by Francois Bome, followed by Poulenc’s “Mouvements Perpetuels” and finally Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante defunte”. All in all a delightful programme, quite superbly played.
For an introduction to the wide variety of music played by just these two instruments, this CD is excellent in every aspect – thoroughly recommended.
Merula (NSRCD001): It has almost become a general consensus that classical and contemporary repertoire need to be treated fundamentally different. ‘Merula’, however, works exactly because it defies the dogma. For his debut album, Matthew McAllister has taken the liberty of showing his abilties within the most diverse contexts, of organising a time-travel package through the ages and of recording his own interpretations of ‘a choice selection of classic guitar repertoire, alongside newer styles of contemporary guitar music.’ Even more significantly, he has allowed in an element, which has strangely been forgotten in the debate on historical practise: Empathy.
Maelasta (NSRCD002): What distinguishes this album is the fresh timbral palette of the unusual instrumental combination on the one hand and the surprising, sometimes even willful, but always convincing repertoire, which the duo totally makes their own. Starting with a detailed excursion into the world of the tango and Astor Piazzolla, McAllister and Hetherington turn towards a couple of less obvious, but highly rewarding shorter pieces, including Frederic Mompou’s dreamy “Prelude 5” and a stupendously idiosyncratic renderings of “Cailin na Gruaige Doinne”: Imagine an Irish traditional performed as though it were Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”, the beautiful lament drifting off into a place of quiet sonorities before returning to sad acceptance.
Blue Rose Code
Ross Wilson, Blue Rose Code’s singer says: “Rawlnish is the name of my family’s house on the Isle of Lewis. In Gaelic it literally means: the point at the end of the land. The house has been standing for over 200 years and is my favourite place. Legend has it that it’s the last inhabited house before Canada on the island and at the right time of year you can see the northern lights. It’s been home to my muse for a long time and has inspired much of our music so it’s only right that it should be the name of our debut release.”
Recital (NSRCD004): Even though the cover of this album depicts two instruments with a long tradition of their own, it is really an album about the interaction between two Classical musicians very much in touch with the present. Aisling Agnew and Matthew McAllister know their way in the digital domain, in the confinements of a studio surrounding and in the splintered landscape of 21st century composition, while at the same time cherishing the purity of a traditional concert with baroque and impressionist pieces. “Recital”, therefore, can be seen as a summary of what they are about, both aesthetically and programatically.
Guitarra Internacional, a new release by leading Scottish guitarist Allan Neave, takes you on a musical journey through Cuba, Venezeula, Mexico, Paraguay, Ukraine, Spain and home to present day Scotland. The CD features some perennial favourites and new works written for the artist, all of which demonstrate the guitar’s range, flexibility and virtuosity. Neave is on fine form here, with this his first solo release for nearly 10 years. From the dynamic tour-de-force of Brouwer’s Elogio de la Danza, to the intimacy of Barrios’s Una Limosnita por el Amor de Dios, this recording is a veritable aural feast. Also featuring music by Manuel Ponce, Valerij Petrenko, Antonio Lauro, Fernando Sor, Peter Stewart and Don Paterson, Guitarra Internacional, is for music lovers across the globe.
Recorded at Duncansburgh Parish Church, Fort William, 18th & 19th September 2006.
Recital (NSRCD004): The Agnew / McAllister duo once again show their talents as arrangers in a super presentation of the Fantasie from ‘Carmen’ where Aisling Agnew displays her highly polished, fluid technique to its best advantage. The programme concludes in French style with,once again two enjoyable performances of the Poulenc and Ravel works. Throughout this recording the duo handles all the technical and musical requirements with aplomb and have produced a most alluring disc.
Agnew McAllister Duo
Flautist Aisling Agnew and classical guitarist Matthew McAllister met in Glasgow whilst studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Their joint passion for chamber music, interacting with composers and performing new music immediately brought them together. Their debut album, Recital, features a wide range of virtuosic and beautiful music from around the globe.
Recorded at Colinsburgh Parish Church, 22nd – 25th July 2006.