In every sense, John McCabe was a leading light in both British and international musical life; he was in love with music from a very early age, and all through his life he remained fascinated by discovering new or neglected composers; as a highly skilled pianist he had a wide repertoire ranging from Haydn to the contemporary work of such composers as Hoddinott, Mathias, Michael Tippett and many others whose work he helped to introduce. As a composer his work on all levels was outstanding and his death in 2015 robbed us of a fine craftsman.
Several composers of high esteem wrote pieces in McCabe’s honour in 2016, and these have been collected along with some works written for his 70th birthday in 2009; many of them have had successful concert performances and now are to be issued in an album entitled ‘A Garland for John McCabe’. The production has been organised by recorder player John Turner with active and esteemed participation by the composer’s widow, Monica McCabe. The works are written for combinations of clarinet, viola and recorder with piano and are performed by Linda Merrick (clarinet), Alistair Vennart (viola), John Turner (recorder) and Peter Lawson (piano). Each soloist is regarded as a foremost exponent of their instrument and have appeared on many current Divine Art/Métier recordings as well as work with other labels.
The album of McCabe’s piano music, ‘Tenebrae’, by Tamami Honma has been one of Métier’s most enduringly popular titles (MSVCD 92071). Shopshire Star called McCabe “one of our foremost contemporary composers” and described the recording as “an astounding work of breathtaking beauty”.
‘A Garland for John McCabe’ will be released in March 2018 on Divine Art DDA 25166.
Full track list (alphabetical order of composer surnames):
James Francis Brown: Evening Changes
Gary Carpenter: Edradour
Peter Dickinson: A Rag for McCabe
Martin Ellerby: Nocturnes and Dawn
Anthony Gilbert: The Flame has Ceased
Edward Gregson: John’s Farewell
Christopher Gunning: Danse des Fourmis
Emily Howard: Outback
John Joubert: Exequy
Rob Keeley: Elegy for John McCabe
Malcolm Lipkin: In Memoriam John McCabe
William Marshall: Little Passacaglia
David Matthews: Chaconne
Elis Pehkonen: Lament for the Turtle-Dove
Robert Saxton: A Little Prelude for John McCabe
Gerard Schurmann: Memento
Howard Skempton: Highland Song
Robin Walker: And Will You Walk Beside Me Down the Lane?
Raymond Warren: In Nomine