The Legend of King Arthur
The Music of Peter Meechan
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Doyen Label: CD305
The piece that gives the disc its title, ‘The Legend of King Arthur’, puts that well-known story to music and is a musical interpretation of the legend. Following an exciting overture, there comes a mystic atmospheric section suggesting Merlin placing the sword into the stone. It has contrasting sections, both melodic and energetic, and a rhythmic pulse that has strong rock music influences. It is music of today telling a story of that historic legend. It is an interesting listenable musical work.
‘Epitaph (for Hillsborough)’ commemorates the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of the disaster where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. This beautifully constructed work lulls one into just sitting quietly to listen and reverently reflect that tragic loss of lives. I found the music deeply emotional.
The title ‘Fire in the Sky’ comes from the Deep Purple song Smoke on the Water and is a reference to an act of arson when the casino in Montreux was burnt down. The composer tells that he uses nuggets of music from three of his musical heroes, Miles Davis, Freddie Mercury and Igor Stravinsky. The music is atmospheric and exciting, with an abundance of climatic episodes, changing moods and emotional material.
‘2nd Epitaph – Across the Water’ was written to be performed on the Normandy beaches where the D Day landing took place. Whilst the music is reflective in style, it is powerfully strong in character.
The title of the short work ‘B of the Bang’ is from a quotation by the British sprinter Linford Christe who said that he started his races not at the bang of the starting pistol but at the B of the bang. The piece is rhythmically busy as it sprints along for just over four minutes.
Commissioned for the Scottish Open Championships in 2007 ‘Macbeth’ takes inspiration from Shakespeare's play of that name. Character portraits, a lament and battles scenes make up the nine sections of the work. The music is always interesting with contrasting moods, beautiful reflective episodes and testing cadenzas, and effective work from the percussion section.
The final item on the disc is ‘Starlight’. Following a slow quiet opening, this ballad style music is so relaxing that one can just listen without preconceived ideas and let the music flow. There is beautiful playing from a single cornet and effective high range work from the soprano.
This CD abounds in good music that is performed at a high standard throughout. There may be parts of the music that is noisy and percussive for some listeners, but for me it ranks with the best recordings I have reviewed this year.
The ten-page insert contains an introduction to the recording by the composer and information about the conception and legend of each of the pieces. There are CV’s of Peter Mechan and conductor Michael Fowles, and a picture, list of personnel and historical information about the Foden’s Band.
1. The Legend of King Arthur, [16.31]
2. Epitaph (for Hillsborough), [6.56]
3. Fire in the Sky, [13.05]
4. 2nd Epitaph - Across the Water, [5.19]
5. B of the Bang, [4.02]
6. Macbeth, [13.59]
7. Starlight, [4.05]