MCGUIRE Entangled Fortunes
Economic theory doesn’t inspire great music. However, the title-work of this wonderful collection of chamber music by the Scottish composer Eddie McGuire, Entangled Fortunes, is the exception to the rule. Commissioned by the wife of the Scottish economist and Nobel Prize winner Sir James Mirrlees for a 2002 gala concert in the latter’s honour, McGuire’s piano trio limns a rhapsodic dialectic symbolising, in the composer’s words, ‘some aspects of Mirrlees’s economics’, while vividly evoking ‘two lives entangled in a love affair’, ‘the striving entanglements of the poor’, and ‘Capital and Labour struggling for survival’.
Indeed, there’s more dialecticism than eclecticism in these works, as minimalist and modernist influences argue with traditional tonal- and modal-based material to forge a rich synthesis, the sheer lyricism of which leaves dry intellectual concerns floating like so much jetsam in its ecstatic wake. Thus the opening Elegy (1991), again for piano trio and written in memory of the composer’s father, who died the previous year, juxtaposes original material with snatches of ‘Londonderry Air’ and an extended appropriation of the ‘Mingulay Boat Song’. Euphoria (1980), whose pullulating yet minimalism-fuelled seven sections vibrate with an attractive palette of strings, woodwind and percussion, reflects the fraught politics of the time while radiating pure pleasure. The String Trio and Quintet 2, both dating from the mid-1980s, make a sublime virtue of tensions between song and dance, consonance and dissonance, economy and the economy.
The Red Note Ensemble’s performances are as vital and coherent as the music itself. Andrew Stewart’s informative and perceptive booklet-notes are the icing on the cake.