Spirit of Scotland

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Record labels have been producing collections of overtures for a great while. The difficulty remains, however, that it's difficult to maintain a listener's interest using nothing more than a smattering of unrelated introductory compositions from an eclectic group of composers. This album on the Chandos label, entitled Spirit of Scotland, is predominantly another such collection of overtures, but the label tried to unify the selections by choosing works in some way related to Scotland. With the exception of the Arnold Four Scottish Dances and the MacCunn, the remainder of the pieces on the album don't do a spectacular job of capturing any true Scottish sound. The Berlioz Waverly Overture, for example, is an immature composition based on the novel of the same name by Sir Walter Scott, and Verdi's wonderful music from Macbeth is not particularly indicative of Scotland. Superior works by actual Scottish composers like Wallace or MacKenzie would seem more apropos for the Spirit of Scotland. As for the performances themselves, the Scottish National Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra deliver strong renditions commensurate with their well-earned reputations. Listeners who truly want to experience what the classical music scene in Scotland has to offer may wish to steer away from compilations.

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