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Evelyn Glennie


Country of origin:

Scotland

Type of music generally:

Classical instrumental (tuned and untuned multi-instrumentalist percussion soloist), experimental

Status:

Most recent release, Sound Spirits (with Jon Hemmersam, 2012)

See also:

Evelyn Glennie Official Web Site

Wikipedia's entry on Evelyn Glennie

Comparisons:

None. Really! Evelyn's is a unique talent. The only other artists operating in the territory that Evelyn defined are the Saffri Duo. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Covers/own material:

Mostly plays the music of 20th century classical composers working in European, Japanese, and South American idioms. Has commissioned many works and composed a couple of short pieces of her own. Her album Dancin' includes several dance numbers from classic Hollywood films.

General comments:

The music Evelyn plays is definitely borderline Ectophilic, but the freshness and sensitivity of her playing (allied to a matchless technique) appeal to many for whom classical music (and especially that of the present century) would be a far from automatic choice of listening. The shorter pieces she plays are engaging and delightful, the more substantial works are often subtle and complex, but the music is never "difficult" and the variety of colours that Evelyn extracts from her battery of instruments is a constant wonder. The "Ecto priority" has been interpreted pretty strictly as a guideline for general recommendation to Ectophiles, different ratings would apply for people coming to Evelyn from (for example) a classical background. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Evelyn Glennie is an awesome performer/percussionist, perhaps the only one in the world who tours. She has had commissioned pieces from composers and played with world-famous symphonies (I saw her with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra). She plays bare-footed and dances around her instruments, it's really beautiful to watch. When I saw her the grace and beauty of it all was astounding. She's Scottish. Oh yeah, she's deaf, too. (paul2k@aol.com)

A world-class percussion player, as has already been mentioned here. Also bestowed the Order of the British Empire. (pmorgan@suffolk.lib.ny.us)

Recommended first album:

Light in Darkness, a generally appealing album that showcases many sides to her music. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Recordings include:


Bartok: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion

Release info:

1987—Sony Classical—MK 42625

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Low

Track listing:

  1. Bartok: Sonata for two Pianos and Percussion [25:54]
  2. Brahms: Variations for Two Pianos on a theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56b [19:54]

Group members:

Murray Perahia—piano (1, 2)
Sir Georg Solti—piano (1, 2)
David Corkhill—timpani (1)
Evelyn Glennie—percussion (1)

Produced by:

Steven Epstein

Comments:

Evelyn's first major recording. A very strong line-up gives a committed and forceful interpretation of the Bartok sonata. The interplay of the two pianos is emphasised but the percussion makes telling contributions that sparkle with life. The second item on the CD is a comparatively routine run through of the Brahms by the two pianists. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Rhythm Song

Release info:

1990—BMG Classics—RD60242

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Low

Track listing:

  1. Etude in C, Op. 6, No. 10 (Musser/Palmer) [1:35]
  2. Robbin' Harry (Inns/Russell) [2:37]
  3. Rhythm Song (Smadbeck) [8:55]
  4. Berceuse (Faure/Palmer) [3:03]
  5. The Flight of the Bumble Bee (Rimsky-Korsakov/Palmer) [1:18]
  6. Czardas (Monti/Palmer & Glennie) [5:13]
  7. Mexican Dance for Marimba No. 1 (Stout) [2:52]
  8. Mexican Dance for Marimba No. 2 (Stout) [2:40]
  9. Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin/Russell) [2:14]
  10. A Little Prayer (Glennie) [4:48]
  11. Black Key Study (Chopin/Palmer & Glennie) [1:38]
  12. Michi (Abe) [11:54]
  13. Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28 (Saint-Saens/Glennie) [9:14]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—percussion
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth—conductor

Produced by:

Ralph Mace

Comments:

Evelyn's first solo album. A selection of mostly well-known and rather lightweight bits and pieces. The choices sound pleasant enough and are immaculately played but the disc seems to be aimed at a rather diffuse and somewhat middle-of-the-road market. There's really nothing wrong with the music or the playing but this selection only scratches the surface of Evelyn's talent. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Light in Darkness

Release info:

1991—BMG Classics (U.K.)—RD60557 (re-released by the Musical Heritage Society in the U.S.)

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Track listing:

  1. Eldorado (Rosauro) [4:01]
  2. Dream of the Cherry Blossoms (Abe) [5:05]
  3. The Song of Dionysius (McLeod) [13:02]
  4. Marimba Dances (Edwards) [10:45]
  5. Marimba Spiritual (Miki) [15:14]
  6. Light in Darkness (Glennie) [3:40]
  7. Two Movements for Marimba (Tanaka) [7:28]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—percussion (1,3,5)
Evelyn Glennie—solo marimba (2,4,6,7)

Guest artists:

Philip Smith—piano (3)
Steve Henderson—percussion (5)
Gregory Knowles—percussion (5)
Gary Kettel—percussion (5)

Comments:

Probably the best place to start for those coming to Evelyn for the first time. The pieces featured are more substantial than in her first solo outing, but highly accessible, and displaying a wide range of musical styles. Several of these pieces remain my favourite Evelyn Glennie tracks. There is a tremendous feeling of energy and enjoyment that shines through in the playing on this disc. Great sound too, the uncredited producer(s) did a good job of capturing the necessary space around the percussion instruments. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Dancin'

Release info:

1991—BMG Classics—RD60870

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Low

Track listing:

  1. Slaughter on 10th Avenue (Rodgers) [5:46]
  2. Clog Dance (Herold/Lanchbery) [2:20]
  3. Polkas by the Beautiful Blue Danube (J. Strauss II/Langford)
  4. The Swan (Saint-Saens/Langford) [3:00]
  5. Ginger and Fred (medley) [8:11]
    • Top Hat, White Tie and Tails (Berlin/Langford)
    • Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (Gershwin/Langford)
    • The Way You Look Tonight (Kern & Fields/Langford)
    • Waltz in Swing Time (Kern/Langford)
    • Puttin' on the Ritz (Berlin/Langford)
    • Let's Face the Music and Dance (Gershwin/Langford)
    • Pick Yourself Up (Kern/Langford)
    • Anything Goes (Porter/Langford)
  6. Can-Can (Offenbach/Langford) [1:56]
  7. Bolero (Ravel/Langford) [5:55]
  8. Hoe-Down from Rodeo (Copland) [2:40]
  9. Invitation to the Dance (Weber/Langford) [5:10]
  10. Hejre Kati (Hubay/Langford) [6:06]
  11. Valse Brilliante (Hamilton-Green) [6:03]
  12. Taps in Tempo (Berenska) [2:06]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—percussion
National Philharmonic Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth—conductor

Produced by:

Ralph Mace

Comments:

Another seeming attempt to appeal to a middle-of-the-road, easy-listening market. The "Ginger and Fred" medley is a lot of fun and Copland's "Hoe-Down" happens to be a personal favourite but taken as a whole this album is the Evelyn Glennie album I play the least and it can hardly be said to be representative of her art. That said, if you like the music selected then the arrangements and playing are of a high standard and make for pleasant, undemanding listening. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Rebounds

Release info:

1992—BMG Classics—09026 61277 2

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Track listing:

  1. Concerto pour batterie et petit orchestre (Milhaud) [7:26]
  2. Concerto for solo percussion and chamber orchestra (Rodney Bennett) [25:33]
  3. Concerto para marimba e orquestra de cordas (Rosauro) [17:27]
    • Saudacao (Greetings)
    • Lemento (Lament)
    • Danca (Dance)
    • Despedida (Farewell)
  4. Concerto pour marimba et ensembles a cordes (Miyoshi) [12:11]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—percussion (1,2)
Evelyn Glennie—solo marimba (3,4)
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Paul Daniel—conductor

Comments:

Four substantial concertos that reward attentive listening. Richard Rodney Bennett's concerto takes the most work to get "into", the others are more immediately attractive. This is Evelyn at her most serious and is a personal favourite. The recording sounds good too, with great care taken over the spacial disposition of the instruments within the sound stage to achieve a realistic effect. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

MacMillan: Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Release info:

1993—BMG Classics—09026 61916 2

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Recommended, essential for some

Track listing:

  1. Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (Macmillan) [23:24]
  2. After the Tryst (Macmillan) [3:03]
  3. "...as others see us..." (MacMillan) [24:31]
  4. Three Dawn Rituals (MacMillan) [7:24]
  5. Untold (MacMillan) [6:52]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—percussion (1)
Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1,3,4,5)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste—conductor (1)
James MacMillan—conductor (3,4,5)
Ruth Crouch—violin (2)
James MacMillan—piano (2)

Comments:

Evelyn only plays on the first piece of this disc of the music of James MacMillan, but what a piece that is! The idea of bringing together the "Scottish Dream Team" of Glennie and MacMillan works tremendously well and the percussion concerto (for such "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel" is) must rank as one of this highly rated composer's most successful pieces. Using a large battery of tuned and untuned percussion (the soloist plays almost continually) MacMillan builds an impressively structured work that explores aspects of his personal response to the Advent and the promise of Easter which it embodied. The music is densely layered and there is a lot going on in both solo and orchestral parts which only emerges on repeated listening. Soloist and orchestra are both in excellent form and the playing is energetic and committed: it's clear that this recording was a significant event for all concerned and everyone rose to the occasion. To my ears this piece is the pinnacle of Evelyn's recording career but it's hard to recommend the disc as a whole to Ectophiles as she is absent from almost two thirds of the playing time. If that does not concern you, or you think MacMillan's other music might appeal anyway, then this disc is an "Essential" purchase! (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Wind in the Bamboo Grove

Release info:

1995—BMG Classics—09026 68193 2

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Recommended—especially if the Japanese repertoire appeals

Track listing:

  1. Michi (Abe) [15:01]
  2. Divertimento (Yuyama) [12:25]
  3. Wind in the Bamboo Grove (Abe) [6:47]
  4. "Rhapsody" (Yoshioka) [9:40]
  5. Variations on Japanese Children's Songs (Abe) [7:07]
  6. Marimba Spiritual (Miki) [15:40]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—solo marimba

Guest artists:

John Harle—alto saxophone (2)
Edward Beckett—flute (4)
Roy Jowitt—clarinet (4)
Chris Laurence—double bass (4)
Ralph Salmins—drums (4)
Stephen Henderson—percussion (6)
Gary Kettel—percussion (6)
Greg Knowles—percussion (6)

Produced by:

Ralph Mace

Comments:

A whole album of marimba music from living Japanese composers. Evelyn had previously recorded several Japanese pieces but never dedicated a whole album to them. "Michi" and "Marimba Spiritual" previously appeared on Rhythm Song and Light in Darkness respectively, but were re-recorded for this album. Unfailingly pleasant listening with an intriguing quality that draws the listener into what may be unfamiliar territory. Evelyn's mastery of the marimba is assured but her formidable technique is always at the service of the music and never exercised purely for display. The feel is very Japanese throughout and this album is especially recommended on that basis. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

Drumming

Release info:

1996—BMG Classics—09026 68195 2

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Generally low, but high for fans

Track listing:

  1. Entrance [0:10]
  2. Halasana (Cauberghs) [6:50]
  3. Sorbet No. 1: Latin American Interlude (Glennie) [0:50]
  4. Bongo-O (Sierra) [3:38]
  5. Sorbet No. 2: Chinese Cymbals (Glennie) [1:37]
  6. Prim (Masson) [7:31]
  7. Sorbet No. 3: UDU Trail (Glennie) [1:55]
  8. The Anvil Chorus (Lang) [7:59]
  9. Sorbet No. 4: Woodblocks and Falling Instruments (Glennie) [0:32]
  10. To the Earth (Rzewski) [8:10]
  11. Sorbet No. 5: Wood and Metal Chimes (Glennie) [2:08]
  12. Pezzo Da Concerto No. 1, Op. 15, for Snare Drum (Zivkovic) [4:30]
  13. Sorbet No. 6: Simtak Debut (Glennie) [2:09]
  14. Matre's Dance (Psathas) [9:22]
  15. Exits [0:12]
  16. Sorbet No. 7: Hi-Hat Playout (Glennie) [1:59]

Group members:

Evelyn Glennie—drumkit (2), bongos & voice (4), snare drum (6,12), metallic percussion (8), speaking & four earthenware flowerpots (10), untuned percussion (14)

Guest artists:

Philip Smith—piano (2,14)

Produced by:

Ralph Mace

Comments:

A whole album of untuned percussion, helped out by Evelyn's regular recital accompanist on two pieces, might be too much for many! In spite of being delighted to find the long-time live favourites "Prim", "Matre's Dance", and "To the Earth" (the last Evelyn's only recording with lyrics to date) finding their way onto record at last, I was disappointed overall by what seemed like a rather self-indulgent album. One that will appeal to existing fans only I suspect. Recorded sound is good, especially in "Matre's Dance". (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

The Music of Joseph Schwantner

Release info:

1997—RCA Red Seal—09026-68692-2

Availability:

Generally available

Ecto priority:

Generally low, but high for fans

Track listing:

  1. Velocities (Moto perpetuo) for solo marimba
  2. Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra
    a) Con forza
    b) Misterioso
    c) Ritmico con brio
  3. New Morning for the World: "Daybreak of Freedom"
    (narrated by Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.)

Comments:

Glennie is one of the featured performers on this disc. Joseph Schwantner is a Chicago-born composer who had a brief career in the jazz world...he's been writing large-scale works since 1969, but this seems to be the first major label release of any of his music. Leonard Slatkin conducts the National Symphony Orchestra on everything but "Velocities." For those picking this one up cold, "Velocities" and "New Morning..." are clearly the most accessible works on the album; "Velocities" sounds very much in the spirit of Glennie's Light in Darkness set. The Concerto is the thorniest of the lot, with a lot of dissonance running throughout (the "Misterioso" movement is the best point in the work for me); some might be amused by the extended percussion run towards the end of the last movement (not unlike the parodied drum solo?).
     None of these works are Glennie commissions, which is a little unusual, but I believe she played on each and every one of these works.
     "New Morning..." gets its texts from the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but don't expect loud, ringing declarations here—everything is read in normal tone and at normal volume. Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. is probably best known for his print and radio commentaries, but he's also a senior partner in a law firm and was the Chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Board(!) in 1992.
     Those who can sample this at a listening station may want to do that first before buying...but I'd say I bought it for "Velocities" and "New Morning..." (pmorgan@suffolk.lib.ny.us)

Further info:

Other recordings: Evelyn also appears on the following records (this list is far from complete):
  • Ellon Academy Orchestra & Concert Band: "Ellon Academy: One" (locally released only, 1979)
  • Cults Percussion Ensemble: [no further details known]
  • Vackar: Trumpet Concerto (with John Wallace) (Nimbus)
  • The Wallace Collection: "Sousa: The March King" (Nimbus)
  • Various: "Last Night of the Proms—the 100th season" (BBC, 1994)
  • Björk: "It's Oh So Quiet" (CD single)
  • Björk's "My Spine" on Telegram
Autobiography: Good Vibrations (written with Pamela Norris) published in 1990 by Hutchinson, London (ISBN 0-09-174305-2) and in paperback the following year. Now out of print. Also published (in 1992) by Simul Press in Japan.

Sheet music:

  • "Three Chorales for Marimba" published in 1994 by Faber Music, London. Contains the Glennie compositions:
  • Marimba Encores
  • Sheet music for three John Psathas compositions that Glennie plays, "Matre's Dance", "Drum Dances", and "Happy Tachyons" available from http://promethean-editions.co.nz/
  • Beat It! African Dances Plus
  • Beat It! Caribbean Dances
Videos include:
  • Evelyn Glennie in Rio (1989)
  • Last Night of the Proms—the 100th season (1994)
  • Evelyn Glennie in Luxembourg (2004)
  • Touch the Sound, a film by Thomas Riedelsheimer (2004)
  • Playing from the Heart, a play based on Glennie's autobiography (1998)
  • Evelyn Glennie in Luxembourg (2005)


Thanks to Steve Fagg and JoAnne Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2014-05-05 22:16:30.
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