Francis MacDonald

Music for String Quartet, Piano and Celeste

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Scottish rock drummer Francis MacDonald, of the band Teenage Fanclub, made a bid for crossover classical audiences with this rather formally titled album, released in 2015. Music for string quartet, piano, and celeste might suggest Bartók's Music for strings, percussion, and celesta, but in fact MacDonald goes straight up the middle of the road with a sound lying between minimalism and new age. The role of the celeste, played by MacDonald himself through the magic of multi-tracking, is subtle; it appears occasionally as a kind of descant wash. The main load is carried by MacDonald's piano arpeggios, surrounded by simple, slightly impressionistic string quartet counterpoint. Overall reactions are likely to depend on how listeners feel about this kind of mood music in general, but there's something appealing about the way MacDonald is aware of his limitations. The titles of the 11 short pieces (September Weekend, Playful, Ghent) are actually reflected loosely in their content, and MacDonald doesn't repeat himself. Another attraction is MacDonald's production work at Glasgow's COD and Glo-Worm studios, giving the piano the dimension this kind of music needs. Recommended for those sympathetic to crossover minimalist styles.

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