F. G. Scott, Francis George Scott (1880-1958), was a new name to me. Born in Hawick, in the Scottish borders, he was mostly self-taught as a composer, and worked for many years as an English teacher. Among his pupils was one Christopher Grieve, better known as the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, whose poetry was to provide the texts for many of Scott's finest songs. Sixteen of those are among the 32 songs on this thoughtfully compiled disc, which also includes settings of Robert Burns and William Soutar among others. MacDiarmid's verse appears to have been a fulcrum of Scott's finest music in the same way that the songs of his younger contemporary Gerald Finzi were centred on his fascination with Thomas Hardy.
In some of the numbers here Scott's idiom does echo that of English pastoralists Finzi and Vaughan Williams, but in others his musical language is much more forward-looking. The finest MacDiarmid settings here—Moonstruck, The Eene Stane, The Watergaw—are angular and often intensely chromatic, showing that Scott knew his early Schoenberg, while an interest in Bartok inspired his research into Scottish folk music. The songs here are shared between soprano Lisa Milne and baritone Roderick Williams, who capture perfectly the fragile sensitivity of the best songs.