Wendy Weatherby,
Sunset Song
(Big Sky, 2007)

Lewis Grassie Gibbons' Sunset Song is one of the most cherished novels that Scotland has produced. According to the notes -- I've been unable to locate a copy of the novel -- it tells the story of one's man's journey through life. That man, Chris Guthrie, is widely seen as a metaphor for Scotland itself.

With this CD, composer and cellist Wendy Weatherby has attempted to capture the novel in music. She hasn't attempted to recreate the entire novel, but has been satisfied to capture its tone and mood while concentrating on a section of it, the part that tells of the relationship between Guthrie and a woman named Ewen Tavendale against the backdrop of World War I.

In this review, I can only attest to the music itself, and I can say it is fabulous. Weatherby has drawn on Celtic themes and traditional Scottish folk music and instruments: pipes, fiddles, button boxes, bouzoukis and whistles abound. But when appropriate, she has gone full out into chamber music, assembling some of Scotland's finest musicians to pull off some dazzling and thoughtful pieces that blend classical techniques with folk themes. The occasional vocal interlude is present and welcome, but primarily Sunset Song is contemporary Celtic music of the highest order.

Hear it once, you'll want to hear it again, which is a good thing because each time listening reveals new beauty and depth.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

26 May 2007

what's new