Classical Voice of North Carolina
. . . . The selections on this CD, The Revenge of Hamish and Other Choral Works, reflect a broad span of musical influences. The music manages to be listener-friendly without any pandering.
One of the most striking selections is “The Ballad of Don and Dan” which is based on a 1984 kidnapping and double murder case in Western Montana. Father and son Don and Dan Nichols, two dimwits on a survivalist fantasy, kidnapped an Olympic athlete to become Dan’s mate. They murdered two of the woman’s friends who had tried to rescue her. Writer Ian Frazier turned notes for a magazine article into an intriguing free verse ballad. McClelland’s setting of the text is appealing and witty with a recurring refrain, variations on “It was an idea, and it didn’t work.” Effective use is made of fine soloists from within the chorus and the text is imaginatively tossed between different sections of the chorus. Livelier portions are accompanied by a small jazz combo with prominent percussion and guitar. Top university choruses ought to consider this for their touring repertory.
“The Revenge of Hamish” is the longest work (19:08) and gives the album its title. It is a splendid setting of the Sidney Lanier poem. The clear and subtle use of the chorus and instrumental ensemble sustains the dramatic buildup to the tragic murder of the bairn (in Scotland a child: son or daughter). A glossary of Scottish words used in the poem is included in the fine CD booklet, along with full texts.