Brian Bannatyne-Scott was born in Edinburgh and has enjoyed an international career as a bass singer in opera, concerts and recordings. He has performed in most of the world’s great theatres including La Scala, Milan, the Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires and La Monnaie, Brussels and has appeared at many international festivals like Edinburgh, Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Beijing, Glyndebourne and the BBC Proms. His extensive discography includes “King Arthur” (DG), “Messiah” (DG), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Philips) and “Matthew Passion” (Linn). He has sung in all the major concert halls and cathedrals in the UK, and appears frequently at the Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals.
Brian is Honorary Professor of Singing at the University of St Andrews. This is his first solo disc and is a celebration of two great Scottish composers (Ronald Stevenson and Francis George Scott) and two great Scottish poets (Robert Louis Stevenson and Hugh MacDiarmid). Although born in Blackburn, Lancashire, Ronald Stevenson lived most of his life in Scotland and through his music and his friendships with the foremost artists and poets of the 20th Century Scottish Renaissance, he is one of the most important and under-rated composers of recent times. He is best known for his colossal piano work “Passacaglia on DSCH” but also composed hundreds of art songs, most of which have been sadly neglected.
Brian Bannatyne-Scott only discovered his songs after Stevenson’s death in 2015, but through a fortuitous meeting with his widow, Marjorie, and with the help and encouragement of Julie Lawson at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, he has put on two concerts of Ronald’s music with the fine pianist Jan Waterfield, and is now releasing this new CD “Songs of Stevenson”, featuring two song cycles recorded for the first time, one with words by R L Stevenson (Hills of Home) and the other with poems by Hugh MacDiarmid (Songs from Factories and Fields).
Francis George Scott was an earlier beacon of the Scottish Renaissance last century and, firstly as school teacher to, and then artistic collaborator with Hugh MacDiarmid, created some wonderful songs, which perfectly match MacDiarmid’s words. Of particular note here is the marvellous “The Eemis Stane” (Track 7) written in MacDiarmid’s personalised Scottish Lallans dialect, beautifully and eerily set by Scott.
The disc ends with a recorded concert performance from 2003 in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, of Ralph Vaughan Williams song cycle “Songs of Travel” written in 1904, just ten years after the death of the author of the words, Robert Louis Stevenson, in Samoa. From the warm tropical climate of the Pacific Ocean, Stevenson wonderfully evoked his youth in Scotland and Vaughan Williams wrote music of great beauty and depth to illustrate the words. The excellent pianist, Alan Jacques, is the accompanist in this live recording at the Edinburgh Festival.
Further information on Brian Bannatyne-Scott can be found at www.bannatynescott.co.uk and you can read a fascinating account of his life and career in “A Singer’s Life” on the Edinburgh Music Review website at www.edinburghmusicreview.com .
Alison Leaf (verified owner) –
I am really enjoying this CD – a gem of Scottish song and musical history. The previously unrecorded songs in the first half feature music by two of Scotland’s finest 20th century composers – Ronald Stevenson and Francis George Scott, with words by Scottish poets, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hugh MacDiarmid and George Campbell Hay. The familiar themes of yearning, homeland, toil, old age and life’s mysteries are evoked with controlled emotion in the rich bass voice of Brian Bannatyne-Scott, beautifully complemented by Jan Waterfield’s sensitive yet dynamic piano playing. Although most of the songs are in plain English rather than Scots’ dialect they all convey something of the unique character and story of Scotland. The second half features the more widely known ‘Songs of Travel’ by Ralph Vaughn Williams, with words by Robert Louis Stevenson – journeying through the cycle of Life. Again this is beautifully sung and interpreted by both singer, Brian Bannatyne-Scott and pianist, Alan Jaques.
The CD is well-produced and presented with an inspiring cover photograph, by Sam Court, of the standing stones at Callanish and interesting, informative programme notes by David Moncur – congratulations and thanks to all involved.