Peter Maxwell Davies: The Last Island

Peter Maxwell Davies’s later music powerfully evokes the isolated majesty of his Orkney island home, yet it also bears witness to his talent for friendship – to his associations, both personal and musical, with friends and supporters in Scotland and further afield. Among the warmest was with William Conway, whom Davies first encountered as principal cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and for whom he wrote the demanding solo part of his second Strathclyde Concerto.

And it was for the Hebrides Ensemble, founded by Conway in 1991, that Davies wrote several of the most impressive and personal works to arise from his late engagement with chamber music – a genre in which he had previously worked rarely, here revealed as the 'last island' of this remarkable and prolific composer's output. On its second Delphian album, the Ensemble reciprocates Davies's friendship with definitive performances of works from his last decade, including the single completed movement of a string quartet left unfinished at his death.

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"The unique character of Davies’s late style is grasped and understood in the Hebrides Ensemble’s highly nuanced performances, described by the composer as ‘a crew of a ship that comes into harbour now and again with supplies. And not just the bare essentials. There are always surprises, little treats that one isn’t expecting.’"

"Maxwell Davies’s intensity of expression is here distilled into chamber music, by turns simple and complex, furious and tender…The disc closes with the composer’s very last work, a brief movement from an unfinished string quartet, its radiant finish a touching finale to this powerful disc"

Recording venue(s): Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 27-29 January 2017
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 10
Total playing time: 76:51
First UK release date: August 18, 2017
Album ID: DCD34178