JOHN MCLEOD (b.1934): The Song of Icarus, The Song of Dionysius, A Moment in Time, The Song of Phryne, The Song of Leda.
Catalogue Number: 06Q078
Description: Virtuosity and drama are the hallmarks of these instrumental 'songs', depicting characters and events in classical mythology. Icarus begins with blazing piano chord-clusters and bold, rising violin figures, but after the inevitable dissonant climax it ends as a sustained lament. Dionisyus deals in acoustical phenomena, being the story of a tyrant who made use of (or possibly enhanced) the characteristics of a cave in Sicily to amplify the voices of his captives, for some nefarious reason or another. Beginning with the harsh echoing sound of stones knocked together, the piece makes much of the resonant capabilities of a large percussion battery, strongly rhythmic but often indeterminately pitched. Dialogues between the piano and marimba suggest a linear narrative, punctuated by the illustrative percussion episodes. Phryne is 'narrated' by the clarinet, in the most 'songlike' solo part of these pieces, while the courtesan's seductiveness is rather graphically suggested by pre-recorded laughter and vocalizations on tape. Leda is ravished, rather than seduced, by the swan in McLeod's depiction of W.B. Yeats' version of the story, with dramatic gestures and an aleatoric climax. The 'point' in time is 9/11, the work an adjunct to Messiaen's quartet for the same forces. The first section is frenetically violent and highly dissonant, the second a dark and haunted threnody. Red Note Ensemble.