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Peter Maxwell Davies

Publisher: Chester Music

A Dance on the Hill (2002)
Commissioned by the BBC and written for Pamela Helen Stephen, Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia
Text Writer
George Mackay Brown
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
22 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Mezzo soprano
Programme Note
Peter Maxwell Davies A Dance on the Hill (2002)
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Score preview:

  • 24 APR 2005
    A Dance on the Hill World Premiere
    Peter Maxwell Davies, a musician of our time
    South Bank Centre, London
    City of London Sinfonia
    Pamela Helen Stephen, mezzo; Richard Hickox, conductor

...a spaciously pastoral setting of George Mackay Brown poems...
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times,01/05/2005
nothing overshadowed the haunting new piece, which takes its title from a line in one of the George Mackay Brown poems it sets. From Elgar’s King Olaf to Gavin Bryars’s From Egil’s Saga, British composers have mined a rich seam of Norse associations, and A Dance on the Hill is the latest manifestation of this: the poetry evokes the long history of the Orkney Islands, where Maxwell Davies has made his home, and his music reflects it beautifully. Scored for mezzo-soprano and a modest, conventional orchestra, the piece opens with timeless glowering, soon settling into a steady flow. This work is not about great contrast; rather, pulse is of the essence, and Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia were attentive to this. Except in the interlude-like sections of this continuous, 25-minute piece, the orchestra seldom calls out loudly. Though the vocal writing is not angular, it does use the singer’s full range. Sometimes illustrating the poetry, sometimes just supporting it, the orchestra speaks a gentle, Brittenesque language — nothing of the early, angry Maxwell Davies here.
John Allison, The Times,27/04/2005
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