Music from the deep, meditations and manifestations of grief, loss and healing:  Seven highly intimate original guitar pieces in one landmark work from award-winning multi-genre musician and writer Douglas MacGregor. This is music that speaks of love, loss, death, yearning for the irretrievable, and, also, hope.

Composer and guitarist Douglas MacGregor lost his mother to cancer when he was just seven and, with that, a whole way of life. It wasn’t until twenty-five years later that the suppressed grief of this world-over-turning experience brought an emotional collapse that submerged him for almost two years. Throughout this time, music was the guide and lifeline, the method of making sense of the unfathomable.

He wrote seven pieces and then chose different non-studio locations over the UK – with a specific meaning to the pieces – to record and video each. He then consecutively released each performance online with an accompanying exploratory text.

MacGregor found inspiration in his ethnomusicological studies of ancient musical practices in grief rituals around the world.  The act of researching, writing, travelling and recording became a ritual in its own right – an attempt to recreate the healing tools of religion through music. It was also a form of therapy and, no less, an artistic endeavour.

MacGregor envisions the music operating on multiple levels simultaneously, “with this project, the line between art, ritual and therapy completely vanished becoming one and the same. The listener can hear the music solely as a piece of art and relate to it freely, or delve deeper into the story, meaning and transformative nature of each piece.”

For this album release, MacGregor worked with German sound engineer Sebastian Ohmert to recapture these pieces in all their sonic beauty, while retaining all the immediacy and intimacy of the original recordings.

These are songs without words, music from the deep. Each piece is an unpremeditated manifestation of love and loss laced with hidden and overt meaning. MacGregor’s poetic writing and performances are beautifully delicate and moving, sombre, soothing and hopeful in equal measures as well as truly breath-taking.

Songs of Loss and Healing is released on 22 May and is available to stream here.

100% of revenue from all pre-orders and first two weeks of sales will be donated to Winston’s Wish, a charity which supports grieving children and young people.

 

Douglas MacGregor’s website

sommcd0162Whenever I hear Haydn’s piano music played well, I want to rush to my piano to play it myself. Such was the effect of listening to Leon McCawley‘s new ‘Sonatas and Variations’ disc on the Somm label. Haydn’s piano music is not performed enough, in my humble opinion, so it is a pleasure to have a recording of such quality to enjoy.

A brace each of sonatas in major and minor keys, these works have long been part of McCawley’s concert repertoire, and this shows in his deft and insightful handling of articulation, dynamics and Haydn’s rapid changes of mood. Nothing feels forced nor contrived, and there’s wit and humour aplenty, especially in the C major Sonata (No. 60, Hob. XVI/50) which shows Haydn (and McCawley) thoroughly enjoying his mastery of the instrument and its capabilities. McCawley brings elegance and spaciousness to the slow movements, revealing fine details of inner voices. Haydn’s final piano sonata, No. 62 in E flat Hob. XVI/52, which unlike the last sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert was composed some 15 years before Haydn died, rather than at the end of his life, combines grandeur and exuberance in its opening movement, while the slow movement has a stately nobility. The finale is a lively romp, but despite the rapid tempo, there is never any loss of detail or precision.

The F minor Variations are a delight, at once melancholy and wistful in the minor variations, and gracious, playful and warm in the major ones. Interior details are highlighted and a sense of the overall architecture and narrative of the work is clear. And I am pleased to note that McCawley observes all the repeats, which turns this work into something enjoyably substantial. Throughout there is tasteful pedalling and the piano has a lovely clarity, perfect for this music.

Recommended.

Haydn
Piano Sonatas
No. 53 in E minor
No. 60 in C major,
No. 33 in C minor
No. 62 in E flat major
Variations in F minor Hob. HVII/6
Leon McCawley, Piano

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