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Farewell to Stromness


In its original form, Farewell to Stromness is the first of two piano interludes that feature in The Yellow Cake Revue—a fierce cabaret of songs and recitations first performed at the 1980 St Magnus Festival by Eleanor Bron, with Max at the piano. The Yellow Cake Revue was one of two works written in response to the threat of uranium mining in the Orkneys, the other being the vocal symphony Black Pentecost (1979).

Max said some years ago that he would be content to be remembered—if at all—by one or two tunes, and this simple yet deeply affecting chanson triste is certainly already a tune by which he is very well known. It is perhaps a testament to the music’s power to speak directly to so many people that so many instrumentalists have sought to make it their own. It has been arranged for forces ranging from string orchestra to bassoon quartet but this version for solo guitar by Timothy Walker (for many years the guitarist in Max’s group, The Fires of London) was the first such transcription made. It was also the only music played at Max’s funeral, in a version by the Sanday folk fiddler Fionn MacArthur. Hearing the music that day in the open air seemed to return it to a communal tradition as profound and mysterious as the plainsongs with which Max was obsessed all his creative life.

from notes by Christopher Austin © 2016


Classical Folk Guitar
CDH88027Archive Service
Maxwell Davies: An Orkney wedding & other works
Studio Master: CKD534Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 20 on CDH88027 [3'20] Archive Service
Track 8 on CKD534 [4'26] Download only

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