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Works by Peter Maxwell Davies

Peter Maxwell Davies Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £52.95
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Biography

Universally acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of our time, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has made a significant contribution to musical history through his wide-ranging and prolific output. He lives in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland, where he writes most of his music. In a work list spanning more than five decades, he has written across a broad range of styles, yet ... Read more in Amazon's Peter Maxwell Davies Store

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Product details

  • Performer: Mary Thomas, Julius Eastman
  • Orchestra: Fires of London
  • Composer: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Audio CD (1 Jan 1988)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Unicorn-Kanchana
  • ASIN: B000001PCI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,298 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Miss Donnithorne's Maggot - Peter Maxwell Davies
2. Eight Songs for a Mad King - Peter Maxwell Davies

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not background music... 5 Feb 2004
Format:Audio CD
Among Maxwell-Davies's many achievements has been his development of the half-staged "music theatre" from the model of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire; this was undertaken in collaboration with the tireless group The Fires of London. This disc captures two of their historic performances, and should be on the shelf of any contemporary music fan.
The music is certainly confrontational and does not usually go down well at dinner parties; as with the Schoenberg, however, the many-layered music, which functions a little like a stage set, rewards repeated listening. The performances, especially those of the singers, are done with great gusto, and once the initial shock is overcome there is real pleasure to be had here. Randolph Stowe's poetry is also superb, which makes a change from the stuff some composers choose to set.
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4.0 out of 5 stars He will die howling, howling, howling.... 1 May 2014
Format:Audio CD
This was a formative work for me. I went with a friend to see a performance in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall while I was still at school (it must have been 1974 or 1975). I can’t remember who the soloist was, but I do remember that the clarinetist Alan Hacker was there, as was Mary Thomas, who performed Pierrot Lunaire at the same concert. I also recall that I found the whole thing very hard to take, but at the same time very exciting. My friend was bolder than I, and got us back stage afterwards where we met Maxwell Davies himself, who was very friendly and encouraging.

Eight Songs for a Mad King is a monodrama for baritone and six players with a libretto by Randolph Stow, based on the words of George III, whose illness was chronicled by (among others) Fanny Burney. The flute, clarinet, violin and cello represent the bullfinches that the King taught to sing, and in some performances they are placed in giant birdcages. The percussionist represents the King’s keeper. Just as Pierrot sings to the moon, the King’s dialogue is directed at the instrumentalists, and he is both inspired and frustrated by their responses. It’s humorous as well as haunting and sometimes shocking. The music is peppered with references and quotations from other music, particularly Handel, though there’s also some Birtwistle in there. The third movement – a dialogue with the flautist – is portrayed in the score in the shape of a birdcage (shown above), with the King’s line notated in the vertical bars and the flute part, representing the bullfinch, moving within and between them. The words are particularly poignant here as the King recalls how the young ladies of the court fear him. “Madam, let us talk, I mean no harm, Only to remember”.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old work, new music 1 Mar 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
These are old works that sound more modern than a lot of music you listen to today. A word also about Julius Eastman for his incredible performance in these Eight Songs for a Mad King. His performance alone justifies getting this re-mastered version of the original Nonesuch 1973 recording.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs for a mad king 31 Jan 2005
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This has to be one of the most outstanding and daring classical work of its time. The 'pop' world was experiencing Sargeant Pepper's etc. and 'Max' was doing his thing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already a modern classic of great emotional range. 4 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Peter Maxwell Davies has taken the emotional and technical range of the human voice further than anyone before him. Extreme extended techniques allow for a full new pallet of timbre and emotion. Not for the traditionalists in classical music.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars crazy stuff 5 April 2002
By new music guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
As the only recording of Eight Songs for a Mad King available at the moment, this is essential listening for lovers of contemporary music and wacky musical theater. Peter Maxwell Davies plays here with the potential of the human voice, forcing the "Mad King" George, played by a fine Julius Eastman, to push himself to the limit, making use of a full 5 octaves. The Fires of London was never a particularly strong group, especially in comparison with modern ensembles of the same instrumentation such as Eighth Blackbird. But despite a dry, studio sound and some technical flubs from the players, they do well enough to not damage the overall recording. There are sections that have made me shiver consistently, through dozens of listenings, in particular Eastman's howling at the end.
Miss Donnithorne's Maggot is an easily forgettable work in comparison to Eight Songs, but its an understandable coupling on this disc, and it doesn't detract from the value.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying 15 Feb 2006
By Mack Garner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
i have listened to the "Eight Songs" three times in my life. I'd say about once every ten years is a good estimate of how often it should be heard. i cannot imagine what it must be like live. I have seen Marat/Sade live, and it was overwhelming, but it's not in the same league with this stuff. Forget Saint-Saens or Mussorgsky, "Eight Songs" is the best Halloween piece ever. If you like contemporary music or just want to be scared out of your wits, you must have this album. Even if you decide not to buy it, I urge you to give it a listen. Your life will never be quite the same again. I promise.
5.0 out of 5 stars He will die howling, howling, howling...., 14 Jun 2014
By John Abbott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This was a formative work for me. I went with a friend to see a performance in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall while I was still at school (it must have been 1974 or 1975). I can’t remember who the soloist was, but I do remember that the clarinetist Alan Hacker was there, as was Mary Thomas, who performed Pierrot Lunaire at the same concert. I also recall that I found the whole thing very hard to take, but at the same time very exciting. My friend was bolder than I, and got us back stage afterwards where we met Maxwell Davies himself, who was very friendly and encouraging.

Eight Songs for a Mad King is a monodrama for baritone and six players with a libretto by Randolph Stow, based on the words of George III, whose illness was chronicled by (among others) Fanny Burney. The flute, clarinet, violin and cello represent the bullfinches that the King taught to sing, and in some performances they are placed in giant birdcages. The percussionist represents the King’s keeper. Just as Pierrot sings to the moon, the King’s dialogue is directed at the instrumentalists, and he is both inspired and frustrated by their responses. It’s humorous as well as haunting and sometimes shocking. The music is peppered with references and quotations from other music, particularly Handel, though there’s also some Birtwistle in there. The third movement – a dialogue with the flautist – is portrayed in the score in the shape of a birdcage (shown above), with the King’s line notated in the vertical bars and the flute part, representing the bullfinch, moving within and between them. The words are particularly poignant here as the King recalls how the young ladies of the court fear him. “Madam, let us talk, I mean no harm, Only to remember”.

This is first of all music theatre, and even in performances where the theatre element is minimalized, there are two moments in particular where the drama takes over. In the seventh, “Country Dance”, the King begins with an explicit reference to The Messiah. “Comfort me, comfort me my people, with singing and with dancing”. The ensemble breaks into an off-kilter foxtrot, and the King reacts violently, grabbing the violin and smashing it. And at the very end of the piece, as the King contemplates his death, he runs from the stage with the percussionist following, beating time as the desperate words fade into the distance: “He will die howling, howling, howling…”. However “difficult” the music is perceived to be, it’s impossible not to be moved by the theatricality when it’s seen in live performance.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Davies in a songwritting mood 11 Mar 2013
By Michael R. Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I assume this was meant to outrage and force audiences to reactact. It does that but not a cd I will listen to often. Nice to have if you need to get guest out of the house. Mad songs for a mad king cannot argue with that!
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