New Staffa sym­phony makes waves

The Oban Times - - LEISURE -

A new al­bum in­spired by Men­delssohn’s He­brides Over­ture and jour­ney to Staffa in 1829 has rock­eted into the UK’s clas­sic mu­sic charts.

Staffa, by Ned Bigham and per­formed by the Royal Scot­tish National Or­ches­tra, was re­leased last month.

The ti­tle piece, orig­i­nally writ­ten for or­ches­tra and three large screens, was cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with BAFTA film direc­tor Gerry Fox, and was pre­miered by the BBC Scot­tish Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, con­ducted by Mar­tyn Brab­bins, at the 70th An­niver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion Con­cert of the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Festival in Au­gust and broad­cast after­wards on Ra­dio 3.

‘Scored for full sym­phony or­ches­tra, ce­leste and two harps, Staffa dra­mat­i­cally evokes the fleet­ing moods of the In­ner He­bridean is­land’s el­e­men­tal lo­ca­tion,’ the al­bum’s pub­li­cist ex­plains. ‘Gerry Fox’s vi­su­als pay homage to Men­delssohn’s fa­mous 1829 visit to its haunting Fin­gal’s Cave by ex­plor­ing the unique hexag­o­nal, basalt col­umn for­ma­tions of the in­te­rior and its sur­round­ings.

‘The other works on the disc com­ple­ment Staffa (in its stereo ver­sion) and demon­strate Bigham’s play­ful way with ex­ist­ing forms. The two sets of Ar­chi­pel­ago Dances whisk the lis­tener off to Bigham’s imag­ined is­lands in these vivid or­ches­tral tone po­ems. Halma­hera is scored for two pi­anos and or­ches­tra, with the canonic piano parts de­light­fully per­formed by Lynda Cochrane and Ju­dith Keaney. The ir­re­sistible Tegua takes the polka form as its start­ing point. The Two Nightscapes are mys­te­ri­ous and haunting, with the glo­ri­ous harp writ­ing in Ser­e­nade per­formed by Pippa Tun­nell.’

Ned Bigham is an eclec­tic com­poser whose ca­reer en­com­passes or­ches­tral, cham­ber, cho­ral and elec­tron­ica.

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