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Colourfully set

Choral music by
William McClelland,
reviewed by

Albany    TROY614

William McClelland: The Revenge of Hamish and other choral works. William Appling Singers and Orchestra. © 2003 Albany Records

Born in Detroit in 1950, William McClelland grew up near Goodison in Michigan surrounded by music of all kinds, and this eclecticism is reflected in the recent CD of his choral works, the title work on which is the most substantial of the collection -- a fearful tale of a Highland deer hunt that went badly, colourfully set with the accompaniment of Celtic fiddle, bodhran and piano, haunted as it is by jigs and reels that capture the atmosphere of 19th century Scotland [listen -- track 12, 10:10-11:03].

Another ballad concerns the very American tale of Don and Dan based on a news story of 20 years ago in which was reported a kidnap and murder by a father and son in the Madison Mountains of Montana. McClelland's style moves from the appealing homophonic presentations of, for instance, Collect Pond, a remarkable hymn in praise of removing plastic bags from trees! [listen -- track 9, 0:00-0:32] and the final Good Speaking, to the weaving lines of Dark Clouds Bring Waters, text by John Bunyan, which seemed reminiscent of Kodály [listen -- track 11, 0:03-1:00].

The Five Sonnets for Men's Voices comprise an effective and subtly contrasted cycle culminating in a moving setting of a Richard Wilbur poem, June Light, that has a medieval atmosphere. Another Wilbur poem, A Wood, for mixed voices, in praise of woodland trees, introduces a wind quintet which provides an interlude between the last two verses [listen -- track 8, 3:54-5:25].

The performances sound well, as indeed they should under the careful direction of leading choral conductor William Appling.

Copyright © 11 February 2006 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


William McClelland: The Revenge of Hamish and other choral works

TROY614 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 72'17" 2003 Albany Records

William Appling Singers and Orchestra; William Appling, conductor

William McClelland (born 1950): Song for the Rainy Season (words Elizabeth Bishop); The Ballad of Don and Dan (Ian Frazier);

Five Sonnets for Men's Voices: Oh, Think Not I am Faithful to a Vow! (Edna St Vincent Millay); I Expect You from the North (John Berryman); Green, Green and Green Again (Conrad Aiken); i have found what you like (e e cummings); June Light (Richard Wilbur);

A Wood (Richard Wilbur); Collect Pond (Thomas McClelland); Wolf Moon (Mary Oliver); Dark Clouds Bring Waters (John Bunyan); The Revenge of Hamish (Sidney Lanier) - soloists Cynthia Richards Wallace, soprano, Jane Gunter-McCoy, alto, Robert Isaacs, counter-tenor, Jonathan Goodman, tenor, Gregory Purnhagen, bass; In That Part of the Young Year (Dante Alighieri); Good Speaking - A Benediction Song (Bill Meikle)





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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews