The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (52): Bleak wedding

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (52): Bleak wedding


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2020

If you’ve never heard Max’s Orkney Wedding with Sunrise, you’re in for a treat.

photo: Suzie Maeder


  • John Borstlap says:

    Nice piece – so different from the abberations of a mad king. I think this is the piece where at the end a bagpiper comes-in, from a side door into the auditorium, to great surprise of the audience.

    • Ricardo says:

      I once attended a performance of the Eight Songs. It is so preposterously outrageous that I enjoyed it enormously. As a violinist I experienced a mixture of horror and deep pleasure (material for a shrink there…)

  • pjl says:

    great piece! when I taught at Cranleigh School there was a Scottish lad who was a technician in the Electronics department (Raymond Coyle) The much-missed Bournemouth Sinfonietta discovered he was one of the few leading bagpipers near the South coast so he played this piece with them at the school and again at the QEH (I took a coach party of pupils who liked him and had never been to a classical concert before) ANOTHER GREAT COMFORT PIECE is ‘Farewell to Stromness’

    • madkingsid says:

      If you’ve ever been to Stromness you’ll know why he said farewell to it, like Slough or Widnes it’s a place reserved for the damned

      • Bruce says:

        Hahaha — as a friend of mine said once (about another region): “It’s God’s own country — he can have it.”

      • Stephen says:

        Rather unfair. It’s a delightful little town. And the Farewell wasn’t supposed to be comfortable – it was written because the town and its surrounding countryside was threatened by a uranium mine.

  • Ricardo says:

    Yes! I heard him conduct it in Aalborg in October 1990. Bernstein had just died. He held a short and funny speech in his honour and dedicated the piece to him. I sat next to him at the dinner afterwards. Lovely and fascinating man.

  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Oh, My Goodness……! An Orkney wedding….!

    We were married there in 1999… in part, inspired by Max’s
    fabulous piece….

    Four times we’ve visited The Old Man of Hoy…first by a passing boat….again by float plane…
    and twice by hiking…..on the heights above Max’s house….

    Orkney….a “bleak” wedding…..?

    The warmth of the Orcadians have made Orkney our second home….

    We returned in late 2019 for the fourth time… experience the darkness, the storms, the wind, the rain, New Year’s… and…. “The Ba’ “…. just under the wire……

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Never heard this…quite enjoyable. Loved the bagpipes! Thanks for posting it.

  • Operndramaturg says:

    Great music, thanks – funnily they don´t show Orkney but the former British colony of Helgoland!

  • Gustavo says:

    Potentially one for David Leonard’s list of one-hit classics.

    However, there is also this nice one by Sir Peter:

    “A Spell for Green Corn: The MacDonald Dances”

  • Luis says:

    Fabulous, happy music. Thank you very much, Norman!

  • Marc says:

    This is a sweet confection, but I’ll stop after one. Too much sugar. Bad for your teeth and your waistline. Btw, anyone else hear a debt to Appalachian Spring in this piece?

  • Jonathan says:

    I am fortunate to have heard this piece twice with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies introducing it from the stage, and each time he said if anyone wasn’t familiar with the piece, they would be surprised by the sunrise. The performance at the Proms at his 80th birthday is on Youtube. Sadly the broadcast missed the bass players spinning their instruments…

  • Ainslie says:

    Interesting detail about this piece: the bagpipes must be retuned to the key of A. Takes a bit of ingenuity from the piper.