John Blackwood McEwen: Under Northern Skies [download]
Work for wind quintet, composed 1939. ?This edition typeset from the original manuscript in Glasgow University Library by Tom Hay for a performance by the Flaxton Ensemble in Millport, 1 October 2008. ?Consists of score (27pp) and parts (10pp + 9pp + 10pp + 7pp + 8pp).
McEwen had a particularly imaginative ear for texture, and the blend of texture and colour in the opening weave of Under Northern Skies is magically done. The mystery of the music is enhanced by the use of whole tone scales in which all the notes are a tone apart, resulting in a deliberate lack of direction or clear sense of start and finish. The whole-tone scale helps to form part of an impressionistic harmonic language which McEwen developed early in his career. The title of Under Northern Skies is a reliable signpost to the character of the piece, which spreads a pellucid light, fresh and chilly, but with more shades of colour than the hot haze of the Mediterranean can often afford.
?John Purser,?Scotland’s Music (1992).