Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding & other works

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Ben Gernon) celebrates the life and works of its much-loved Composer Laureate Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Max, as he was affectionately known, was closely associated with the SCO since the 1980s, when he became its composer/conductor-in-residence; this is the last recording preceding his passing in March 2016.


The Guardian: “A worthy and deeply felt portrait of Max’s Orkney…The SCO and Ben Gernon are totally committed; guitarist Sean Shibe adds the tiny Hill Runes and the ever touching, ever so simple Farewell to Stromness.”

The Herald: So back to the new disc: and we must say a word about Sean Shibe, the still-young Scottish guitarist. It’s not long, in fact, since Sean made an appearance in this slot, when he dominated a cover disc on the BBC Music magazine, in which he demonstrated his skill and artistry in a range of guitar concertos, solo pieces and arrangements. Now here he is again, with yet another notch in his bow (or should that be ‘fret on his fingerboard’ with the most beautiful, resonant and soulful performance of Max’s Farewell to Stromness, probably the Max piece that is everybody’s favourite – which was played by a local fiddler at the composer’s funeral.”

The New Zealand Herald: “The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has released a most attractive sampling of orchestral works, interspersed with solos by guitarist Sean Shibe…He gives it a magnificent performance, especially in the luminous resonances of a breathtaking Adagio molto [of Hill Runes].”

McAlister Matheson Music: “This fascinating disc combines newer works with old-established favourites. Orchestral pieces alternate with works for solo guitar, the latter played by young Edinburgh-born guitarist Sean Shibe. He gives a rare account of Hill Runes, a series of five characterful miniatures inspired by George Mackay Brown’s enigmatic poem of that name. The music’s nature is more akin to lute music; apparently Max was trying to find a way of writing for the guitar that was in no way ‘Spanish’. Shibe is a persuasive advocate for the work, and also gives a warm-hearted performance of Farewell to Stromness.”


iTunes (mp3):

Presto Classical (CD):


  1. Concert Overture. Ebb of Winter
  2. Hill Runes i) Adagio – Allegro moderato
  3. Hill Runes ii) Allegro
  4. Hill Runes iii) Allegro
  5. Hill Runes iv) Adagio molto
  6. Hill Runes v) Allegro
  7. Last Door of Light
  8. Farewell To Stromness
  9. An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise