At its first performance, in London’s Queen’s Hall on 21 February 1920, The Sea Reivers
was described as a ‘Hebridean Sea-Poem’. Though Sir Henry Wood was the concert’s principal conductor (the programme included the first performance of Delius’s Concerto for violin and cello), Bantock took charge of his own work. Composed in 1917, it is a concise, vigorous scherzo based on ‘A Hebridean Sea-Reiver’s Song’ (Na Reubairean
). This had also appeared in the Kennedy-Fraser collection, and expresses the wild exultation and daring exploits of the Hebridean pirates. At first only hinted at, the song soon appears in its entirety in tumultuous and vivid orchestral colours. According to ‘Grove V’, The Sea Reivers
was originally intended as the scherzo section of the Hebridean Symphony
. Although no mention is made of this in the composer’s programme notes for the first performance, it would seem very likely as the work is unusually brief for Bantock.
from notes by Michael Hurd © 1991