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.