Recorded Live on 27th January 2012
Gordon McPherson (born 1965)
Stunt Doubles (Psappha commission)
I. Yakima Canutt and the Art of Living Dangerously
II. Burt Reynolds Cosmopolitan 1972
III. Bud Ekins and his Incredible Leap for Freedom
Enter the impossible. Stunt artists do what actors cannot, depending on a combination of extreme skill and movie trickery. Skill and trickery are involved, too, in these three acts: the skill of virtuosity from the instrumentalists (the regular sextet of flautist and clarinettist, percussionist, pianist, violinist and cellist), and the trickery of recorded tracks in which MIDI samples of the same instruments are heard doing things that are wildly unfeasible, but that may appear to be coming from the live players.
Each movement is based on one of the most celebrated stunts of the twentieth century, beginning with Yakima Canutt’s springing from horse to horse in the 1939 John Ford film Stagecoach. In a similar way, the galloping music seems to jump the gap between real and virtual instruments, and jump back again.
The middle movement is based on a stunt of a different kind: the actor Burt Reynolds’s appearance in Cosmopolitan magazine photographed in the buff (though with a decorously placed arm). A dance here hots up when the virtual ensemble breaks in.
Saluted in the finale is Bud Ekins’s vaulting on a motorcycle over a barbed-wire fence, substituting for Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (1963). Duets build up additively of live and recorded snare drums, flutes and clarinets, standing perhaps for the dangerous barrier, to be racingly followed and closely observed until eventually the moment will come to leap, in a musical disappearing act.
© Paul Griffiths
About the composer:
Gordon McPherson was born in Dundee in 1965. He studied at the University of York returning there for his Doctorate, continuing with post-doctoral research at the Royal Northern College of Music. His work has been performed and broadcast widely throughout the UK and abroad.
Recent works have included, The Baby Bear’s Bed a large amplified work commissioned for London based ensemble Icebreaker and premiered in Vienna, a third string quartet The Original Soundtrack commissioned by the Salisbury Festival, South commissioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, two guitar concertos, the first Upbeat Destroyer commissioned by the Bath International Guitar Festival and Born of Funk and the Fear of Failing commissioned by the Dundee International Guitar Festival and premiered by Allan Neave and Psappha; The Waterworks a large hour long multi- media investigation into alien abductions commissioned by and premiered by the Paragon Ensemble, Morning Drunk and Buzzard commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the St.Magnus Festival for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra; and he has just completed a new large scale orchestral work The New Black commissioned by the BBC .
He has currently working on a fourth string quartet for double quartet, and A Scots Passion a large scale music theatre version of the passion based on the Lorimer translation of the New Testament , to be premiered in 2012.
His work has been recorded on a number of labels and his most recent are, Detours, a 2 CD collection of his work released on the Metier label, and Tales from the Darkside, recent ensemble works released on the Glasgow based label Natural Studio.
Gordon is Head of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Learn more about Gordon McPherson: slowbabymusic.com
Conrad Marshall flute
Dov Goldberg clarinet
Richard Casey piano
Tim Williams percussion
Benedict Holland violin
Jennifer Langridge cello
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