John McCabe (1939-2015) was a prolific composer and pianist, bequeathing in all an impressive seven symphonies and seven string quartets, as well as numerous concertos and several major ballets. McCabe was appointed CBE by the Queen in 1985 for his services to British music. Three highly expressive chamber works make up this album. The piano quintet The Woman By The Sea draws inspiration from a the Kenji Mizoguchi film Sansho Dayu (1954). It was recorded in 2009 and features John McCabe on piano, with the Sacconi Quartet. Silver Nocturnes for baritone and string quartet, sets poetry by three of the so-called ‘Silver Poets’ of the sixteenth century: Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), Sir Edward Dyer, and Sir Philip Sidney. There is a mournful, almost austere tone established through the Britten-esque vocals, here sung by Roderick Williams. McCabe described the french horn as "one of the most evocative and beautiful of all instruments". His Horn Quintet was written especially for the artists on this recording: David Pyatt and the Sacconi Quartet.
The bonus download-only track, Desert III: Landscapes, for piano trio, is inspired by McCabe's fascination with deserts and performed by the Australian Piano Trio.
David Pyatt horn
Roderick Williams baritone
John McCabe piano