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Music & Vision Magazine

William McClelland grew up near Goodison in Michigan surrounded by music of all kinds, and this eclecticism is reflected in the recent CD of his choral works, the title work on which is the most substantial of the collection -- a fearful tale of a Highland deer hunt that went badly, colourfully set with the accompaniment of Celtic fiddle, bodhran and piano, haunted as it is by jigs and reels that capture the atmosphere of 19th century Scotland

Another ballad concerns the very American tale of Don and Dan based on a news story of 20 years ago in which was reported a kidnap and murder by a father and son in the Madison Mountains of Montana.

McClelland's style moves from the appealing homophonic presentations of, for instance, Collect Pond, a remarkable hymn in praise of removing plastic bags from trees(!) and the final Good Speaking—A Benedction Song, to the weaving lines of Dark Clouds Bring Waters, text by John Bunyan, which seemed reminiscent of Kodály.

The Five Sonnets for Men's Voices comprise an effective and subtly contrasted cycle culminating in a moving setting of a Richard Wilbur poem, June Light, that has a medieval atmosphere. Another Wilbur poem, A Wood, for mixed voices, in praise of woodland trees, introduces a wind quintet which provides an interlude between the last two verses.

The performances sound well, as indeed they should under the careful direction of leading choral conductor William Appling.

                                                                                                                                             - Patric Standford

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