PETER MAXWELL DAVIES (1934-2016): The Martyrdom of St. Magnus.
Catalogue Number: 09S080
Reference: DKP(CD) 9100
Format: CD reissue
Description: Davies' 1976 chamber opera is very welcome back to the catalogue. Based on George Mackay Brown's novel about the 12th-century Viking pacifist martyr, the work brings out the very best of the composer's lyrical gifts and his Orkney Islands-inspired sense of atmosphere, soon to come to full fruition in the magnificent Second Symphony. The work is both vocally and instrumentally virtuosic - it was written for The Fires of London - but in a much less extreme sense than works from the 1960s. Much of the piece is based on, or derived from, plainchant, lending a quasi-liturgical air to the characters' eloquent vocal lines, and the composer's ingenious use of instrumental 'leitmotifs', associated with the characters, lends a lean, spare clarity to the narrative and allows the moments of tutti high drama, such as the execution scene, a truly shattering intensity. Libretto included. Music Theatre Wales, Scottish Chamber Opera Ensemble; Michael Rafferty. Original 1990 release.