John McCabe / David Pyatt / Sacconi Quartet / Roderick Williams

John McCabe: Silver Nocturnes; The Woman by the Sea; Horn Quintet

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British pianist John McCabe gained considerable popularity as a composer later in life. The chamber works here, all quintets in one way or another if one admits the voice as an instrument, all date from after 2000, and two of them are from the last four years of his life. McCabe flirted with serialism early in his career; it left a mark on the economical structures of works like these, which otherwise fall into the line established by Britten and Tippett. The Silver Nocturnes of the title work refer not to a natural scene, but to the Silver Poets of the 16th century. The name denoted a kinship with the Silver Age of Roman literature. Sir Philip Sidney was the best known of these poets, and he is represented here. Sample McCabe's setting of "My true love hath my heart": here is a unique confluence of poetic language, musical style, and the marvelously restrained and subtle singing of baritone Roderick Williams. The two instrumental works are in the same vein, not as immediately communicative but equally well wrought. McCabe himself appeared before his death (the recording was made in 2009) on The Woman by the Sea, a work based on a film by Kenji Mizoguchi and incorporating Japanese elements. Recommended as a memorial to McCabe, who died in 2015.

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