EDDIE MCGUIRE (b.1948): Elegy for Piano Trio, Euphoria for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Piano and Percussion, String Trio, Entangled Fortunes for Piano Trio, Quintet No. 2 for Violin, Cello, Flute, Clarinet and Piano.
Catalogue Number: 08R075
Description: A useful cross-section of ensemble pieces that displays the versatile composer's many styles and influences from Scottish folk music via minimalism and modern tonality to an intense, almost atonal late romantic expressionism. The Elegy, in memory of the composer's father, begins bleakly, but develops into varied treatments of Scots folk melodies like tender memories of the departed, interspersed with keening episodes of intense sorrow. Euphoria has a lively rhythmic drive, and was written at a time when the mood in the UK was anything but euphoric, to counter the general sense of gloom and foreboding that hung over Thatcherite Britain. The music is certainly a type of minimalism, but of a very personal kind, its buoyant melodic phrases sounding enthusiastic rather than obsessive. The String Trio is in a much more modern idiom, with much use of abrasive dissonance in its opening section, though even here, McGuire finds room for a kind of hybrid tango/Scottish folk fiddle passage, and after that the music settles into a series of episodes translating aspects of several folk forms into a modern concert setting. Entangled Fortunes celebrates a rather unlikely subject; the economic theories of Sir James Mirlees, which inter alia contained warnings about the consequences of the kind of activities that led to the recession, a subject that strikes a chord with the socialist McGuire. The piece, true to its title, is a stream of discursive counterpoint between the instruments, in a predominantly tonal idiom (once again featuring Scottish melodies) and with an overall sense of optimism and forward motion, as though suggesting that with determination and the striving of the individual, the better aspects of society will ultimately prevail. Quintet 2 is the most modern work here, largely atonal in its exploration of tonal contrasts between material of different character presented by the instruments; obsessive ostinati from the piano, overlapping skeins of melody from flute and violin or flute and clarinet, and so on. Red Note Ensemble.