(The) Shadow Side: Contemporary song from Scotland
That the range of recent Scottish song is a wide one can hardly be doubted on hearing this disc from Irene Drummond. Edward McGuire (who contributes the informative booklet-notes) is represented by a subtly cumulative sequence that ably captures the fleeting emotion of Lesley Siddall’s verse, love proving tangible and elusive by turns. John MacLeod’s approach is understandably more demonstrative in his settings of Irina Ratushinskaya (whose poetry is synonymous with the decline of the Soviet Union), while just a little too interventionist to convey their stark observations in full measure. The contrast with two of John Maxwell Geddes’s arrangements could hardly be greater, whether in the easeful sentiment of Robert Burns’s ìAye Waulkin’ Oî or the quizzical humour of Carolina Oliphant’s ìThe Laird o’ Cockpenî.
This first half of the recital is interspersed with James MacMillan’s settings of William Soutar, which themselves range from the deftest poignancy to the most fervent rhetoric. Judith Bingham’s compact ìscenaî adeptly interweaves verse by Joy Finzi with extracts from RD Blackmore’s novel Lorna Doone in a heady sequence of elemental passion, while Lewis Forbes brings a fresh perspective to settings of Burns and Hugh MacDiarmid; as does Paul Mealor to those of Emily Dickinson, even if repetition of words and phrases is arguably to the detriment of their expressive detachment. Roderick Williams’s arrangement of Burns then makes for a restrained yet enticing encore. Unfailingly attentive accompaniment from Iain Burnside and spacious but always focused sound further enhance a most desirable disc.