Intermusica Artists' Management



Intermusica represents Sir Peter Maxwell Davies worldwide.

Catherine Gibbs

Assistant to Artist Manager:
Caroline Gibbs

Other Links:

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' website

Chester Music

Boosey & Hawkes

Schott Music

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies


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 worklist that spans more than five decades, he has written across a broad range of styles, yet his music always communicates directly and powerfully, whether in his profoundly argued symphonic works, his music-theatre works or witty light orchestral works.

Maxwell Davies’ major dramatic works include full-length ballets Salome and Caroline Mathilde, music-theatre works Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot, and operas Resurrection, The Lighthouse, The Doctor of Myddfai, and Taverner, which was recently released by NMC Records on a Grammy-nominated disc with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen. Maxwell Davies’s most recent opera Kommilitonen! (Young Blood!) received critical acclaim for its world premiere run of performances at London’s Royal Academy of Music, with the Daily Telegraph labelling the composer “A Master Symphonist”.

Maxwell Davies’ huge output of orchestral work comprises ten symphonies - hailed by the Times as “the most important symphonic cycle since Shostakovich” – as well as numerous concerti including the Strathclyde Concerto series and most recently his violin concerto Fiddler on the Shore, written for Daniel Hope and first performed in 2009 by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and at the BBC Proms. Maxwell Davies’ light orchestral works include An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise and Mavis in Las Vegas, and five large-scale works for chorus including the oratorio Job. His latest series is the landmark cycle of ten string quartets, the Naxos Quartets, described in the Financial Times as “one of the most impressive musical statements of our time”. Recent highlights include Maxwell Davies’ Ninth Symphony, co-commissioned by the Liverpool Philharmonic and Helsinki Philharmonic, which received its world premiere in summer 2012 to great critical acclaim.

Maxwell Davies’ latest major work is his Tenth Symphony, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, to be premiered by LSO at the Barbican Centre in February 2014. Other notable premieres of the 2013/14 season include Ebb of Winter, premiered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in November 2013 and a new work for organ, brass and children’s choir, commissioned by Southbank Centre in celebration of the newly restored Royal Festival Hall organ and premiered in March 2014.

Maxwell Davies has held the position of Composer/Conductor with both the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras. He has guest-conducted orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra. He retains close links with the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney’s annual arts festival which he founded in 1977, is Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Visiting Professor at Canterbury Christchurch University and the Royal Academy of Music.

Many of Maxwell Davies’ works have been recorded over the years, and most recently Naxos launched a major re-release of a seventeen-disc series of recordings including a number of significant works such as the symphonies, The Lighthouse, An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise and the Strathclyde concerti.

Maxwell Davies was knighted in 1987 and appointed Master of the Queen's Music in 2004, in which role he has sought to raise the profile of music in Great Britain, as well as writing many works for Her Majesty the Queen and for royal occasions. He was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the New Year 2014 Honours List.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is represented by Intermusica.
2013/14 season / 604 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.


Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Piano Works 1949 – 2009
Piano Sonata
Three Sanday Places
Five Little Pieces for Piano
Six Secret Songs
Farewell to Stromness
Yesnaby Ground

Five Pieces for Piano, Op.2
An Orkney Tune
Snow Cloud, over Lochan
Sub Tuam Protectionem
Ut Re Mi
Stevie’s Ferry to Hoy

Richard Casey, piano
Prima Facie
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Linguae Ignis
Vesalii Icones
Fantasia on a Ground and 2 Pavans
Mauro Ceccanti, conductor
Vittorio Ceccanti, cello
Naxos 8.572712
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Taverner – an opera in two acts
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Oliver Knussen, conductor
Martyn Hill & John Graham Hill, tenors
David Wilson-Johnson & Quentin Hayes, baritones
Stephen Richardson & Peter Sidhom, basses
Fiona Kimm, mezzo-soprano
Michael Chance, countertenor
Stuart Kale & Peter Hall, tenors
Tom Jackman, treble
His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts
London Voices
New London Children’s Choir
Peter Ford, Ronald Corp, chorus masters
Stefan Asbury, assistant conductor
NCM D157
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.3
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Downes, conductor
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot
Eight Songs for a Mad King

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: In conversation with Paul Driver Psappha

Jane Manning, Soprano
Kelvin Thomas, Baritone
PSA CD 1001
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Solstice of Light
Five Carols
Hymn to the Word of God

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Neil Mackie, tenor
Christopher Hughes, organ
ARGO 436 119-2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
String Quartet
Le Jongleur de Notre Dame

The Arditti Quartet
Opera Sacra Buffalo
Charles Peltz, conductor
Edward Albert, baritone
Mode 59
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets No.1 and No.2
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557396
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets No.3 and No.4
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557397
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets No.5 and No.6
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557398
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets No.7 and No.8
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557399
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Naxos Quartets No.9 and No.10
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557400
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
The Martyrdom of St Magnus
Music Theatre Wales
Scottish Chamber Opera Ensemble
Michael Rafferty, conductor
Unicorn Kanchana
DKP (CD) 9100
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
The Doctor of Myddfai
Welsh National Opera
Richard Armstrong, conductor
Collins 70462
(2 CD)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
André Previn, conductor
(Disc also includes Barber – Concerto for Violin and Orchestra)
SMK 64 506
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
David Tanenbaum, guitar
(Disc – ‘Acoustic Counterpoint’ - also includes other works for classical guitar by Tippett, Reich, Sierra and Takemitsu)
NA 032 CD
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Sea Eagle (for solo horn)
Michael Thompson, horn
(Disc – ‘Virtuosi’ - also includes works by Dukas, F Strauss, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, R Strauss, Poulenc, Dunhill and Abbott)
CDC 7 54420 2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Ave Maris Stella
The New York New Music Ensemble
(Disc also includes works by Druckman and Carter)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
A Voyage to Fair Isle
Grieg Trio
(Disc also includes works by Beethoven)
PSC 1166
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Farewell to Stromness
Yesnaby Ground

David Holzman, piano
(Disc also includes works by Wolpe and Pleskow)
CRC 2102
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise
Boston Pops Orchestra
John Williams
(Disc also includes works by Walton, Delius, Grainger, and Vaughan Williams)
420 946-2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Sub Tuam Protectionem
Stevie’s Ferry to Hoy

Roger Heaton, clarinet
Stephen Pruslin, piano
(Disc also includes works by Goehr and Birtwistle)
CC 0019
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Hill Runes
Julian Bream, guitar
(Disc – ‘Dedication’ - also includes works by Bennett, Walton and Henze)
BMG Classics
09026 61597 2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Farewell to Stromness (arr. Rosemary Furniss)
(Disc – ‘Music for a Royal Celebration’ – also includes music by Walton, Handel, Finzi, Elgar, Grieg, Bach and Britten)
QTZ 2041
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
A Birthday Card for Hans
Stedman Doubles

Paul MacAlindin, conductor
(Disc – ‘Fantastic Islands’ - also includes works by Gilbert, Edlin, Newland and McPherson)
British Music Label
BML – 026
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
The Kestrel Paced Round The Sun
Sarah Brooke, flute
Elizabeth Burley, piano
(Disc also includes works by McGuire, Bennett, Berkeley, Matthias, Bowen and McGarr)
British Music Label
BML – 032
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Yesnaby Ground, Farewell to Stromness
Allan Neave, guitar
(Disc – ‘…the isle is full of noises…’ - also includes works by McGuire, Nicolson, Wilson, and McPherson)
BGS Records
BGCD 104
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Two Dances for Caroline Mathilde
David Nicholson, flute
Eluned Pierce, harp
(Disc – ‘Music from the North Lands’ - also includes works by McGuire, Horne, Takemitsu and Shaposhnikov)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Fantasia on ‘O Magnum Mysterium’
Three Organ Voluntaries
Reliqui Domum Meum


Kevin Bowyer, organ
(Disc – ‘Kevin Bowyer Plays 20th Century Music For Organ’ – also features works by Harvey and Williamson)
NI 5509
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Some December midnight (from ‘A Hoy Calendar’)
The Mayfield Singers
(Disc – ‘A Hordaland Christmas in Orkney’ – includes works by Mendelssohn, Nielsen, Walton and Weir)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Maxwell Davies: Chamber Works
Ave Maris Stella; Image, Reflection, Shadow; Runes from a Holy Island

Fires of London
Souvenir Records
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Ave Maris Stella
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: Sacred Choral Works
Edinburgh Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral
Matthew Owens, conductor
RSAMD Ensemble
Michael Bonaventure, organ
Simon Nieminski, organ
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Peter Maxwell Davies: Mass
Missa parvula

Westminster Cathedral Choir
Matin Baker, conductor
Robert Quinney, organ
Robert Houssart, organ
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Revelation and Fall: Peter Maxwell Davies
EMI Classics
EMI 724358618723


Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.1 (25th Anniversary Edition)
Symphony No.1; Pavan, Galliard (And Recitative), March; Intrada, Praeambulum, Pavan, Misere, Galliard, Te Per Orbem Terrarum, Dumpe, Eterne Rex Altissime, Eterne Rex Alias, Eterne Rerum Conditor, Coranto, Mask In Echo, Reprise

The Fires of London
Philharmonia Orchestra of London
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Movement for String Quartet; (5) Pieces for Piano; Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; String Quartet; (The) Seven Brightnesses; Hymnos; Little Quartet No.1; Little Quartet No.2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Guy Cowley, clarinet
Ian Pace, piano
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot
Eight Songs for a Mad King

The Fires of London
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Mary Thomas, mezzo-soprano
Julius Eastman, baritone
Unicorn Kanchana
DKP (CD) 9052
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Strathclyde Concerto No.9 for six woodwind instruments
Strathclyde Concerto No.10: Concerto for Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
David Nicholson, piccolo
Elizabeth Dooner, alto flute
Maurice Checker, cor anglais
Josef Pacewicz, E flat clarinet
Ruth Ellis, bass clarinet
Alison Green, contrabassoon
Collins 14592
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Strathclyde Concerto No.3 for Horn, Trumpet and Orchestra
Strathclyde Concerto No.4 for Clarinet and Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Robert Cook, horn
Peter Franks, trumpet
Lewis Morrison, clarinet
Collins 12392
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No. 6
Time and the Raven

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 14822
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Ojai Festival Overture
Caroline Mathilde: Concert Suite from Act I of the Ballet
Threnody on a Plainsong for Michael Vyner
St Thomas Wake

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, con
Collins 13082
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
The Lighthouse
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Neil Mackie, Christopher Keyte, Ian Comboy
Collins 14152
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
CBC Vancouver Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Vancouver Bach Choir
Valdine Anderson, Linda Maguire, Paul Moore, Kevin McMillan
Collins 15162
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.1
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 14352
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Della Jones, Christopher Robson, Martyn Hill, Neil Jenkins,
Henry Herford, Gerald Finley, Jonathan Best
Collins 70342
(2 CD)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Strathclyde Concerto No.5 for Violin, Viola and String Orchestra
Strathclyde Concerto No.6 for Flute and Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
James Clark, violin
Catherine Marwood, viola
David Nicholson, flute
Collins 13032
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.1
Points and Dances from Taverner

Philharmonia Orchestra
The Fires of London
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor
UCJ 473 721-2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Trumpet Concerto
Renaissance Scottish Dances
Turris Campanarum Sonantium

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
The Fires of London
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Elgar Howarth, conductor
Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet
Stomu Yamash’ta, percussion
Decca 473 430-2
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Ojai Festival Overture
Mavis in Las Vegas
Carolisima: Serenade for Chamber Orchestra
A Spell for Green Corn: The MacDonald Dances
An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise

BBC Philharmonic
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 15242
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Caroline Mathilde: Concert Suite
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 20022
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Strathclyde Concerto No.1 for Oboe and Orchestra
Strathclyde Concerto No.2 for Cello and Orchestra

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Robin Miller, oboe
William Conway, cello
Unicorn Kanchana
DKP (CD) 9085
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Sinfonia Concertante

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Regis RRC 1148
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
The Beltane Fire
Caroline Mathilde: Concert Suite from Act II of the Ballet

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 14642
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Worldes Blis
The Turn of the Tide
Sir Charles: His Pavan

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Manchester Cathedral Choir
Collins 13902
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Black Pentecost
Stone Litany

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Della Jones, mezzo-soprano
David Wilson-Johnson, baritone
Collins 13662
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Strathclyde Concerto No.7 for Double Bass and Orchestra
Strathclyde Concerto No.8 for Bassoon and Orchestra
A Spell for Green Corn: The MacDonald Dances

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Duncan McTier, double bass
Ursula Leveaux, bassoon
Collins 13962
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Piano Concerto, Piccolo Concerto
Maxwell’s Reel, with Northern Lights

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Kathryn Stott, piano
Stewart McIlwham, piccolo
Collins 15202
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.2
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 14032
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.3
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
Collins 14162
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Symphony No.4
Trumpet Concerto

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Royal Scottish Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
John Wallace, trumpet
Collins 11812
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
A Celebration of Scotland
(An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, Kinloche, His Fantassie, Seven Songs Home, Yesnaby Ground, Dances From ‘The Two Fiddlers’, Jimmack The Postie, Farewell To Stromness, Lullaby For Lucy, Renaissance Scottish Dances)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor/pianist
The Choir of St Mary’s Music School
Unicorn Kanchana
B000001 PCM
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Peter Maxwell Davies – A Portrait
(O magnum mysterium, Seven In Nomine, Second Fantasia on John Taverner’s ‘In Nomine’, Antechrist, Missa super ‘L’homme armé’, From Stone to Thorn, Lullaby for Ilian Rainbow, Hymn to St Magnus)

London Sinfonietta
New Philharmonia Orchestra
The Fires of London
The Choir and Orchestra of Cirencester Grammar School
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor
David Atherton, conductor
Sir Charles Groves, conductor
Decca 475 6166
2 CD
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Peter Maxwell Davies – A Portrait
(Extracts from many Maxwell Davies works, as well as a recorded interview with the composer).

Various ensembles, soloists and conductors.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Max: The Music of Peter Maxwell Davies
(Full length works and extracts of various pieces by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies)

Various ensembles, soloists and conductors.
Collins Quest 30032

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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 80th birthday celebrations / BBC Proms
“It was heart-warming to see Peter Maxwell Davies march up on stage to introduce a concert of his own music which he had curated to celebrate his eightieth birthday. Each of the three works had that super-bright mercuriality which characterises his music at its best.”
Independent, August 2014

“it’s a substantial, introspective and hauntingly beautiful piece, a depiction of the first stirrings of spring in Orkney, with lonely instrumental solos wandering through chilly landscapes and a sense of optimism peeking through the closing bars.”
Guardian, September 2014

“The symphony was far more turbulent than I remembered, its constant alternation of slow static movements and unruly fast ones creating a huge dislocating energy. The final pages are a struggle to earth all this tension and achieve a resolution, which in this amazingly energised performance felt positively bloody.”
Daily Telegraph, five stars, August 2014

A Mirror of Whitening Light… glittered and darted as bewitchingly as it did at its first performance. We may hear this impression of the changing light outside the composer's study window on Hoy with different ears these days but, as Edwards' performance showed, the freshness and spontaneity of its invention remain dazzlingly potent.”
Guardian, August 2014

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Naxos re-release of Collins Classics CD featuring Suite from The Devils, Suite from The Boyfriend and Farewell To Stromness
“Here's a very welcome and timely reissue… an outstanding performance by Nicholas Cleobury's Aquarius ensemble of Max's dance band arrangement of The Boyfriend (the Ken Russell film), packed with Charlestons, foxtrots and delicious music, sparklingly orchestrated, plus the composer's potent and threatening movie score for Russell's The Devils, the concentrated Seven In Nomine and, in another world altogether, his beautiful piano miniature Farewell To Stromness, played by the great man himself.”
Herald, March 2014

World premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Symphony No. 10 'Alla ricerca di Borromini' by London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Antonio Pappano
"This work turns on its head the old trope about architecture being frozen music. Here is music functioning as liquid architecture: monumental, certainly, but lightened by a grace and brilliance worthy of the buildings that inspired it."
New York Times, February 2014

“It's put together with an unfailingly sure touch. The orchestral writing is vivid and, for the brass especially, often fiercely virtuosic. The baritone part is effectively a dramatic scena, overlaid on the mostly serene and homophonic choral writing, and all three layers were beautifully, precisely presented in Pappano's performance...One of the most movingly personal of Davies's recent scores, and a major new symphony.”
Guardian, February 2014

“A perfect 10: Peter Maxwell Davies has defied cancer to produce a triumphant symphony. Davies has come up with a 43-minute work that may be idiosyncratically (Proustianly?) “in search of” the 17th-century suicidal architect Francesco Borromini, but enlists a baritone soloist and a large chorus to that end, transforming symphony into drama and, for all the bleakness of the subject, achieving an affirmation of the transcendent power of art…

In the finale Davies rises to the most ardently operatic writing he has yet produced, and the baritone Markus Butter projected it with fierce conviction. Throughout the death scene, the chorus — the LSO Chorus transparently eloquent — imperturbably intones the names of the great Borromini churches, the thing that survives of him. And they have the a cappella last word: a D minor hymn, blended with the baritone’s farewell invocation of St Cecilia, that seems to offer a hint — Mahler fashion? — of resurrection.”
Sunday Times, February 2014

"Creativity, mortality and renewal: this was the collective message that imprinted itself on our hearts."
Observer, five stars, February 2014

“Though later dipping into spikily atonal areas, this new work mostly gravitates to tonal centres and offers a broadly accessible sound world, richly scored with extended woodwind and tuned percussion sections. Burbling marimba chords and the subterranean purr of contrabass clarinet proved particularly memorable touches, while the clang of hard mallets on tubular bells and vibes depicting the sound of construction were absolutely central to the work’s purpose... [a] substantial and complex new work."
Arts Desk, five stars, February 2014

“Long brooding passages of counterpoint, in his unmistakable orchestral palette that mingles the dark colours of Sibelius with brilliant flecks of glockenspiel and bells, and obstreperous brass fanfares.”
Daily Telegraph, February 2014

“Plenty of meat here for conductor Antonio Pappano’s theatrical flair; for the London Symphony Chorus too, often bathed in luminous winding harmonies; beautiful to hear.”
Times, February 2014

World premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Concert Overture: Ebb of Winter by Scottish Chamber Orchestra in celebration of the orchestra’s 40th anniversary
“And how thrilling to see just a few weeks ago Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, long standing associate of the SCO, bound onto the stage to acknowledge the world premiere of his birthday tribute to the orchestra, the exuberant tone poem Ebb of Winter, inspired by the mercurial weather around his home in Orkney.

It was a truly touching moment for the near 80-year-old Master of the Queen’s Music; and a musically significant one. For not only did he seem fighting fit after a year of battling cancer, but the music revealed a softened side to the composer – glittering sounds that danced with new-found energy, lyrical buoyancy and ease of spirit, as well as promise (by him) of more to come.”
Scotsman, December 2013

“The first thing that hits you is the sheer exuberance of this 20-minute tone poem. Inspired by the unpredictable, ever-changing Orkney weather, it dances with mercurial fluidity, long strains of sinewy melody constantly buffeted by luminous sprays of chattering brass and woodwind. A startling strain of warm-hearted Romanticism underpins everything, exerting a softening effect on some of the old Max austerity that lurks bullishly beneath the surface.

Oliver Knussen conducted a sparkling first performance, matching ear for detail with a powerful sense of build towards the final blazing major chord.”
Scotsman, November 2013

“You could take the piece any way you want: in the pictorial literalism of the music (the realisation of "slippery underfoot" the best I have ever heard) or the sun-kissed but freezing atmospheres throughout the piece, with its dazzling, radiantly spring-like major chord at the end.

But my own preference in this wee masterwork is the (by now and long since established) natural Scottish accent in the music that underpins its identity, and the dance-like figuration, lilt and momentum that propels the piece in its later stages. And, for me, the fact that Max's music is still dancing, which I said to the great man after the performance, is one of the most enduring qualities of his work.”
Herald, November 2013

‘Maxwell Davies Solo Piano Works 1949 – 2009’ CD released on Prima Facie
“Though best known for his large-scale works, this anthology suggests that in his own way, Peter Maxwell Davies may be as distinctive a piano miniaturist as Erik Satie. His Orkney home is clearly the biggest influence in this regard: works such as “Three Sanday Places”, “Snow Cloud, over Lochan”, “Yesnaby Ground” and the popular “Farewell to Stromness” are simple but deeply satisfying evocations of place, weather and character. Elsewhere, “Six Secret Songs” and “Five Little Pieces for Piano” are sketches of Borgesian brevity, some condensing impressive development into a tiny frame, while others have the impromptu manner of cartoons. Considerably more complex is the engrossing seven-part “Piano Sonata”.”
Andy Gill, Independent, August 2013

World Premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Oboe Quartet by Hebrides Ensemble at St Magnus Festival
“…the main event of the night was the premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies's Oboe Quartet, written specially for the [Hebrides] Ensemble.

Informed, the programme note explained, by a keen consciousness of absence from Orkney and last year's St Magnus Festival, this makes gripping, though not comfortable, listening. It opens with lyrical sadness, first of all on fragile strings, with the oboe entering much later to take over the high and expressive solo line.

With a wringing of its hands the work very gradually quickens and becomes more exercised, throwing virtuoso flourishes over its path. Later, the strings murmur like a troubled mind, with pizzicato textures coming through like the sharp glass of madness. Jagged dance rhythms appear, but feel more like a pounding fist of angry regret. All the material is derived from an Alleluia Easter plainsong, and indeed ultimately we are led by the oboe, and driven by a variety of string textures, towards an apotheosis that feels like a moment of blinding light.”
Herald Scotland, June 2013

Peter Maxwell Davies – Eight Songs for A Mad King / Performed by Music Theatre Wales
“Music Theatre Wales is revisiting an iconic work of the 1960s, Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songsfor a Mad King… Kelvin Thomas’s performance is one of the most compelling I’ve seen. A lumbering, shambling mountain of a king, in wig and nightdress, Thomas’s portrayal of the deranged George III moves from horror to pity with a hundred nuances of human affliction in between. And his vocal virtuosity is so closely integrated with the voices of the instrumental ensemble, conducted by Michael Rafferty, that they seem a single nerve system — sentient, shattered, always in shock.”
Times, March 2013

Peter Maxwell Davies – Symphony No.6 / Performed at Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Maxwell Davies Celebration Concert
“Revisiting one of its own commissions, the RPO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, lavished every drop of virtuosity on a toweringly powerful 45-minute piece that always knows where it’s going, even if listeners dither. Have faith, the music says, and it will finally make sense. So it did, through a shifting kaleidoscope pummelled by violence, anger, raw nature and, briefly, a jazzy brass band. The work’s humane complexities were considerably enhanced by the warm Cadogan Hall acoustic; such a welcome change from hearing contemporary music in a dry box or soup bowl. The composer’s introductory remarks helped too.”
Times, March 2013

“Entire programmes of contemporary music are not the RPO's natural territory; still, two of the three works on this programme were, in fact, commissioned and premiered by the orchestra…What came across most strongly in this context was how deeply Davies's music is rooted in a sense of place – and not just through his use of Orcadian folk music, though that was an important element. In the weighty Symphony No. 6, it is the changeable, mystical Orkney weather that insinuates its way into the score. Throughout, there was a sense of nature as a massive, inscrutable force; the music repeatedly building up, but always evolving. Davies, however, saves making this explicit until the final seconds, when the last notes die out under the sound of rainsticks.

Jack Liebeck was the soloist in the Violin Concerto No 1, bringing idiomatic touches to a work that transplants folk fiddle gestures into the framework of a grand romantic concerto. Finally came An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, a vividly remembered account of a celebration at which band and guests got riotously plastered before Davies walked home into the morning light. Sunrise comes in the form of a ceremonially dressed bagpiper, playing his way on to the stage: not exactly the way Ravel or Strauss wrote theirs, but a deliciously exuberant evocation of joy. That must have been some hangover.”
Guardian, March 2013

Peter Maxwell Davies — Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 / Released on Naxos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra
“Of the hallowed number of nine symphonies that Davies has produced, the single-movement Fifth had the most vocal immediate acclaim (a Proms world premiere in 1994), while the chastely chamber-orchestral, four-movement but continuous Fourth (1989) is perhaps the least talked-about. Its subtle formal thinking rewards repeated listenings, whereas No 5, though still terse, is more colourful and direct. Cast in a multiplicity of subsections, of greatly varying length, it is a newfangled study in symphonic integration. This account is incisive.”
Sunday Times, September 2012

Peter Maxwell Davies - Symphony No. 9 (London Premiere)
“This brilliantly crafted work — Haydn¬esque in duration, Mahlerian in scope — is far from the kind of ceremonial work one might expect from the master of the Queen’s music. Indeed, its attitude to militarism and war is not so far from Shostakovich’s in his Seventh and 10th. A memorable concert in a terrific week for British musicians at the Proms.“
Sunday Times, September 2012

“This new symphony is very much fired, too, by its own internal conflicts. Not only do its dark timpani rolls, its sounds and alarums, and its anarchic interpolations from brass sextet speak of the chaos of war, they also obliquely summon up spectres of royal pomp and circumstance... Does it celebrate, mourn or warn? Like the Shostakovich that followed it, it does all three simultaneously. And it is those collisions and ambivalences that give the work its power. The symphony is typical Maxwell Davies: the old anarchist peeping over the parapet of the status quo and finding cunning compositional means with which to hold together menace and mischief. The work’s main material is artfully transformed by interval and rhythmic bending. Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic played the piece with meticulous commitment and assurance.”
Times, September 2012

“Played without a break, the symphony unfolds darkly, before a brass sextet, seated above and to one side of the orchestra, introduces a succession of jaunty flourishes. These unleash a series of disintegrations and crises from which the remainder of the work seeks a fragile closure... indisputably one of Maxwell Davies’ most engaged orchestral works and it may well claim a lasting place in the repertoire.”
Guardian, September 2012

“Undertones of war pervaded the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s return to the Proms [with] the London premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s Symphony No.9. A single movement protest against the futility of Britain’s involvement in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, Davies’s work builds slowly in unsettling waves of textured rhythm punctuated by blasts of distorted fanfare from a brass sextet positioned at arm’s length from the orchestra. The overall effect was disconcerting but intentionally so, as chief conductor Vasily Petrenko’s fastidious control ensured the piece remained coherent all the way to its brittle closure.
Liverpool Daily Post, September 2012

Peter Maxwell Davies - The Last Island / Wigmore Hall
“After the interval came a welcome re-hearing of The Last Island (2009) by Peter Maxwell Davies. Taking inspiration from two islets bordering the Orkney island of Sanday, along with natural and man-made facets to be found there, it found the composer turning to the string sextet after an intensive involvement with the quartet medium. Its single movement alternates slow and fast sections with a formal intensification that leads to the climactic emergence of the 'Ave Maris Stella' plainchant often deployed by Davies, but seldom so atmospherically as here. In sustained emotional impact, indeed, this is as impressive as anything he has written over recent years.”
Richard Whitehouse, Classical Source, March 2012

Peter Maxwell Davies - Kommilitonen! (US Premiere)
“There are many impressive things about “Kommilitonen!,” the new opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, with a libretto by David Pountney, which had its American premiere at the Juilliard School on Wednesday night. Best of all is Mr. Davies’s exhilarating score. Here, for once, is a modern opera that exudes musical modernism. Mr. Davies was a major figure in the European avant-garde. Over the years he may have softened the hard edges of his modernist language. But at 77 he still writes bracingly gritty and complex music. In his many dramatic works and unconventional operas, Mr. Davies has excelled at putting contemporary-music techniques to arresting theatrical purposes.”
The New York Times, November 2011

“With timid tonality pervading so many new operas, it was refreshing to hear the edgy, acerbic sounds of Peter Maxwell Davies's "Kommilitonen!" presented by the Juilliard School last week. Mr. Maxwell Davies and librettist David Pountney, who also directed, used that agitated quality and a range of musical styles to deftly weave together three tales of student political action.”

“Mr. Pountney's kaleidoscopic libretto and Mr. Davies's music vary the dramatic treatment of these stories, giving each a distinctive profile and keeping the show moving as it switches among them.”
The Wall Street Journal, November 2011

"Kommilitonen!" is an earnest and engaging creation, an agitprop pageant that proves surprisingly entertaining. Moreover, the Juilliard Opera singers and orchestra, led by conductor Anne Manson, performed it with an enthusiasm and polish that had the 77-year-old composer beaming when he came out for his curtain call. Davies' lifetime of experience writing large-scale compositions shows in his expert use of the orchestra. The rhythmically varied, basically tonal score is filled with snatches of melody that hint at Chinese marches, American spirituals and German lieder ' tunes that often melt into one another. In a compelling moment during the interrogation of the Chinese parents, a relentlessly upbeat chorus for the Red Guard plays against a string lament for the hapless victims.”
The Associated Press, November 2011

“Rumors were that an “Occupy”-something group would disrupt Wednesday night’s US premiere of “Kommilitonen!” But the Juilliard Opera performance went off without offstage fireworks, and proved to be a well-crafted and moving meditation on student activism... A post-performance protest outside the theater suggested the 20 or so “Occupy Opera” demonstrators had at least done their homework: Among the slogans they chanted was a line from this opera’s rousing finale, “There is no quota on freedom!”
The New York Post, November 2011

Peter Maxwell Davies - Kommilitonen! (World Premiere)
“A master symphonist. It was a triumph: an extraordinary testament to the fact that, at the age of 76, his creativity is radiantly alive but more judicious than it was when he was half this age. Kommilitonen! Is an ensemble piece that prioritises collective singing – which from start to finish was magnificent. But the evening’s real star was Maxwell Davies, whose music gave these young performers something genuinely worthwhile to work with”
Daily Telegraph, March 2011

“The music works with exemplary theatrical skill; Here is proof that Maxwell Davies, who says he never intended to write another opera, still had a serious success inside him.”
Financial Times, March 2011

“His score is extraordinarily fluent: the vocal lines are perfectly judged and the instrumental writing full of wonderful touches, with marching band, jazz trio, solo harp and erhu players on stage. It is as good as any theatre score he has ever composed.”
Guardian, five stars, March 2011

“If you’re looking for a glorious, heart-warming pageant of humanity, [Maxwell Davies’s] latest opera will do nicely. It’s a bold and beautiful assertion of the transformative power of truth.”
Evening Standard, five stars, March 2011

“The score works strikingly well. Kommilitonen! Visits Juilliard School, New York, its co- commissioner, in November, but I’m sure that won’t be the end of this stirring blast of an opera.”
Times, March 2011

“Peter Maxwell Davies’s astounds with the world premiere of his brilliant opera for students about protest movements. The moral force that Davies and Pountney dramatise is felt in the brilliance and blinding conviction with which this production is brought off. The piece moves forward in an undoubtedly compelling way, and the score has an energy belying the composer’s 76 years. I didn’t want Act II’s opening stretch, a transformation of “Michael, row the boat ashore”, to end.”
Sunday Times, March 2011

“How satisfying to have a full-scale opera written with the fluency of a composer who, at 76 and with several early theatre works to his name, understands the stage. Pastiche is skilful and immediate, only the showy top strata of a many layered and subtle score.”
Observer, March 2011

“What emerged last weekend at the Royal Academy of Music is a gripping new opera about – for once – something important. Maxwell Davies’s score is mercurial, moving with fluidity that matches the rapidly changing scenes. His vocal lines are lyrical, and the composer is at his most inventive in embracing styles from American jauntiness to Chinese marching-band music.”
Sunday Telegraph, March 2011

Peter Maxwell Davies - Sea Orpheus / World Premiere at Carnegie Hall
“Mr. Davies describes the work as ‘strictly Neo-Classical,’ mainly because it draws on Bachian rhythms, embraces canonic writing and uses Baroque techniques to transform the chant theme. But where Neo-Classicists in times past hinted at an 18th-century harmonic language, Mr. Davies wrote in his own contemporary style. It is, however, an engagingly virtuosic score.”
The New York Times, February 2010

Peter Maxwell Davies - Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot / Kings Place
“The inside of [Miss Donnithorne’s] deranged mind is a vast theatre for the imagination of Maxwell Davies. Pastiche, violent vocal lurches and vocalisations, and a calculatedly wild exploitation of the expressive extremes of each instrument conjure the “white lady of silvered Sydney town” who, in the lunar beauty of her moonstruck days, “wept like a xylophone and laughed like a tree”.”
Times, January 2010

Peter Maxwell Davies - Taverner / Released on NMC Records with the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Oliver Knussen
“Taverner is a work that blazes with theatricality and dramatic power, and is underpinned by a score of remarkable variety and sometimes visceral intensity.”
Guardian, October 2009

“Taverner, first staged at Covent Garden in 1972, is among the most significant operas by a British composer born after Britten and Tippett, yet is only now out on disc. It is a baffling delay, but the quality of this account, recorded in Maida Vale studios by Radio 3 in 1996, makes the wait worthwhile. The score that seemed so challenging, dissonant and problematic (entire scenes enacted to the accompaniment of early instruments, making for precarious balance in the opera house) is realised here with as much smoothness and expressive vigour as if it were, indeed, a Britten opera. The end of Act 1 is shattering. The cast, led by Martyn Hill as the 16th-century composer, is uniformly superb.”
Times, November 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - Taverner / Performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony and Martyn Brabbins
“Why has it taken so long to revive Peter Maxwell Davies's early opera Taverner? […] I was blown away by its emotive power.”
The Scotsman, November 2009

“No work could have been more fitting to bring the 75th birthday celebrations of Peter Maxwell Davies in Glasgow to a close than his monumental opera Taverner… Yet what this performance with the BBCSSO under Martyn Brabbins demonstrated beyond doubt is that the opera is a masterpiece. Betrayal, hatred, hysteria and the terrible things people do in the name of religion – all these Max trademarks are present, but in Taverner they combine to make something that is horrific, funny and strangely moving.”
Guardian, November 2009

“Henceforward there will be no excuse to ignore this searing, sumptuous score, of which a new and worthy production has been long overdue.”
The Herald, 9 November 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - Symphony No. 4 / Performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Oliver Knussen
“Written specifically for chamber orchestra, its four intricate movements lead into each other, explosive, unworldly, tremulously powerful...”
Times, November 2009

“Like any good book or painting, every repeat visit reveals something new and undiscovered in much of Max's earlier music.”
The Scotsman, November 2009

“Max's fourth symphony proved just as illuminating. […] It is a misleading work, written quite deliberately for intimate chamber orchestra resources, yet packs a real punch. The final bars brought a sense of exhaustion, quiet elation and acceptance, offering yet another illustration of how the Max at 75 celebrations in Glasgow are by no means a superficial birthday bash. They are an invaluable opportunity for us to reassess musical landmarks in the life of a genuinely unique and interesting composer.”
The Scotsman, November 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - Overture, St Francis of Assisi / Performed by the BBC Scottish Symphone and Ilan Volkov
“Take his latest work, the overture St Francis of Assisi, premiered last week by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. There is an unmistakable familiarity in its meteoric explosion of ideas, tamed by haunting lyrical strands inspired by the composer's lifelong obsession with plainsong. Combined with his tendency these days to work with leaner textures, it was an intoxicating cocktail of nostalgia and fresh revelation.”
The Scotsman, November 2009

“It may only have been ten minutes long. But Sir Peter Maxwell Davies's Overture, St Francis of Assisi – newly commissioned by the BBC for Glasgow's Max at 75 celebrations – packed as much dynamite into its short duration as Strauss's Don Juan, Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto or Sibelius's Seventh Symphony, all of which featured in Thursday's BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) programme.”
The Scotsman, October 2009

“[T]he orchestral textures are superb – gorgeous string sonorities juxtaposed with trumpets, woodwind or growling timpani […]”
Daily Telegraph, November 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - The Last Island
“[The Last Island] is as impressive as anything Maxwell Davies has written during recent years.”
Classical Source, October 2009

“It's a haunting piece, full of glassy harmonics and treacherously exposed string-writing that the Nash Ensemble players negotiated superbly. The music threatens to become a conventional introduction and allegro, yet consistently reins itself in so that nothing gets resolved, and the mood of unease remains.”
Guardian, October 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - Violin Concerto No.2 / Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Daniel Hope, conducted by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the BBC Proms
“Maxwell Davies is a master of orchestral technique, eliciting a vast array of colour from the players. […] The breathtaking slow movement was melancholic and deeply expressive, bringing to mind the image of the title’s fiddler on the shore of a remote island, and a plea for the survival of traditional music making on the islands. […] The audience shared my enthusiasm for the work and allowed composer and soloist multiple curtain calls. […] Max has become one of our best known living composers, and it was a wonderful experience to witness such respect and love for a man who is one of our most prolific and outspoken artists.”
Seen and Heard International, September 2009

“Cast in one movement, the new concerto, 20-minutes in duration, is at once accessible and communicative, wearing its modernity lightly. It is scored for a large orchestra and makes great use of pungent brass and tuned percussion; the soloist shines through its ethereal transparency, which is at times mesmerizing. […] It was the concerto that proved the highlight of the evening. […] A sparkly eyed republican turned Establishment figure, the Master of the Queen’s Musick is clearly still at the peak of his powers.”
Musical America, September 2009

“Wave patterns have always suffused Max's music, providing both evocative colour and mathematical conundrums for his composing imagination. Like Sibelius (whose Fifth Symphony was carefully conducted by Garry Walker later in the evening), Max’s music is shaped by natural forms — and this Concerto is no exception.”
Times, September 2009

“Ever the master in terms of balance, Max moulds his musicians around the solo violin. Though indebted to Mendelssohn formally, harmonically the concerto owes more to Alban Berg’s example, written a year after Max was born, with a similar pan-tonal writing for the strings. Truly sumptuous!”
Classical Source, September 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - Westerlings
“Through this vivid scene-setting it was possible to relate to the composer’s vision of the sight and sound of the sea near his home, described as “a crucible of ever-changing miraculous light”. […] The evocative settings ended with the Lord’s Prayer sung in the now-extinct language of Norn, an Orcadian dialect, and set with sensitivity and understated beauty by Maxwell Davies.”
Classical Source, September 2009

Peter Maxwell Davies - An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise
“Davies is a master story-teller in this vividly detailed tone-painting of a rustic, often raucous, all-night wedding celebration. The bagpipes’ entrance near the end is a soul-stirring touch of genius.”
Gramophone, June 2008

Peter Maxwell Davies - Naxos Quartets
“[T]he Ninth in Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s cycle of 10 Naxos Quartets is a 36-minute canvas of formidable rigour and accomplishment, positively Beethovenian in its fearless ambition, questing spirit and unremitting concentration. Taking its cue from the Baroque suite but employing Scottish dance forms, the Tenth wears a more reflective demeanour, its emotional kernel comprising a central Adagio flessibile, which boasts some of the most probingly sincere inspiration in the whole series.”
Gramophone, December 2008

“The Maggini Quartet complete the cycle of ten works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on the label that commissioned them. The last is deliberately incomplete, ending mid-air after a patchwork of wild and sweaty flings. The Ninth contains raw echoes of the composer's Manchester childhood.

A landmark series.”
Times, December 2008

"The Maggini Quartet and Naxos can be immensely proud of their achievements in bringing this landmark cycle into being. As for its composer, it seems that the wider stage is set to reappear following his recent immersion in chamber music. How the experience gained in working with the medium of the string quartet, the most refined and elevated of all musical formats, will be taken back into the orchestral realm is the next exciting adventure in the career of this most exemplary of creative artists."
Classical Source, November 2008

“Peter Maxwell Davies’s Naxos quartets surely rank as the weightiest and most rewarding of chamber musical statements since Shostakovich.”
Financial Times, September 2008

"The Naxos cycle is a 21st-century landmark."
Times, August 2008

"One of the major achievements in the chamber music of our time... Throughout the five years it has taken him to compose all 10, Davies has been aware of the overarching architecture of the series, likening his task to a novelist who issues a book chapter by chapter in a periodical. What he has produced has been wonderfully varied, from compressed single-movement structures to huge multi-movement spans of music lasting more than 50 minutes, with equally diverse starting points that range from children's games to the lighthouses of Orkney and Shetland.”
Guardian, October 2007

"One can hardly fail to be struck by the fastidious craftsmanship, lucidity of texture and keen sense of proportion and adventure."
Gramophone, July 2007

"Compelling, grippingly concentrated."
BBC Music Magazine, June 2007

Peter Maxwell Davies - Piano Trio
“… the mastery of Maxwell Davies's trio Voyage to Fair Isle was vividly evident. It gave us that instant assurance of being in safe hands, freeing up the mind to enjoy the other qualities of the pieces, which were many.”
Daily Telegraph, January 2003

Peter Maxwell Davies - Antarctic Symphony
“It is a tribute to the integrity of his vision that the composer achieve such a rapturous reception for so intimate and complex a work.”
Independent, May 2001

“… we have here a superior sound architect realizing not only his symphonic concept, but also a culmination of a long life of composition.”
Weser Kurier, May 2001

Peter Maxwell Davies - Piano Concerto
“The work itself was like a Piano-Concerto about-piano-concertos, with echoes of pianistic styles ranging from Bach and Mozart (in the austere beauty of much of the central Adagio) to the spiky dynamism of Bartók and Prokofiev in the outer movements, culminating in a hair-raising coda which out-Rachmaninoffs the ending of the Rachmaninoff Second in its combination of vehement percussion explosions against cascading octave runs from the soloist. Despite the hints of other composers' styles in this substantial 35-minute work, the new Piano Concerto speaks with Max's unmistakable voice; the Scotch-snap rhythms which seem to permeate all his recent output, the piercing brass trills, comic trombone glissandi and ear-catching percussion writing all bear the hallmarks of their composer as his most characteristic.”
Tempo Magazine, November 1997

Peter Maxwell Davies - Mavis in Las Vegas
“Maxwell Davies writes with great musical and orchestrational ingenuity; he doesn't compromise his standards when writing light music. The piece is easy to follow, and often deliciously witty, as when Liberace takes flight. It is also a complex but genuine tribute to tackiness, a quality it neither overvalues nor underrates.”
The Boston Globe, March 1997

Peter Maxwell Davies - Strathclyde Concerti
“An extraordinary composition.”
Glasgow Herald, November 1996

“A work which tests the technique of its soloists to the full, and which is a compelling, beautifully coloured struggle for supremacy and reconciliation.”
Times, January 1990

Peter Maxwell Davies - A Spell for Green Corn: The MacDonald Dances
“One of the loveliest, most satisfying violin concertos of the twentieth century at the very least.”
Wiener Zeitung, September 1994

Peter Maxwell Davies - An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise
“This piece of unashamed programme music parodies Scottish strathspeys and reels in a hilarious picture of a boozy, rustic knees-up, the band finally collapsing into alcoholic oblivion. The sun rises in th shape of the Highland bagpipes, the player advancing ceremoniously through the hallcrowning the work with a gesture of heartfelt rhetoric. It brought the house down.”
Independent, May 1985

Peter Maxwell Davies - The Martyrdom of St Magnus
“My experience of this superb piece has been intensified by gratitude that, even in our materialist age, artists can still find the means to create works which disturb our complacency, console our hearts and lay bare with compassionate clarity the deeper spiritual patterns which the conflicts and passions of daily life obscure. For admirers of the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, and for those interested in serious new opera and music-theatre works, this disc is a necessity. For others, I will only say that I have found listening to this work both a disturbing and a healing experience. The painful harshness of its subject (and of some of its music) seems to me no more than an accurate reflection of the world we see around us each day, and like all great art, The Martyrdom of St. Magnus ultimately seeks to reconcile us to our state of human imperfection, even as it challenges us to work to bring the actions of our daily lives into closer harmony with the inner blueprint of the Divine Image that each of us carries."
Fanfare, 1977

Peter Maxwell Davies - Eight Songs for a Mad King
“One of this composer's finest and most moving achievements.”
Daily Telegraph, April 1969

Peter Maxwell Davies - Worldes Blis
“Maxwell Davies's score, played with heroic musicality by the RPO, has an organic concentration that is unsurpassed in his output. It is superbly integrated and profoundly affecting.”
Gramophone, 1969

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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Symphonies
Viola Concerto Commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic & Sydney Symphony Orchestra.“Having done so many pieces in recent years that tell an extra-musical story, or have a poetic or literary title, it seemed fitting that this should be a piece that examines first and foremost purely musical ideas... It’s nevertheless an essay in which I inhabit part-sonic and part-lyrical words as in much of my music... I’m...

Tom Service on Maxwell Davies
A guide to Peter Maxwell Davies's musicGet your head round the epic scale of Max's vast output – in every sense of the word – and you'll find a composer whose best work is inspired by the remote islands he's made his homeTom Service, writing in The Guardian20 August 2012It's become the critical fashion to take a view of Peter Maxwell Davies's music that things were better in the olden days; that it's the electrifying, still-shocking imagination...

Worklist - a selection Highlights from a worklist that spans decades include the iconic Eight Songs for a Mad King, the joyful and entertaining Orkney Wedding with Sunrise, the Naxos String Quartet cycle, the Strathclyde concerto series, five operas, eight symphonies, two ballet scores, a wealth of music for children and young performers and many more works both serious and light-hearted. Key Dramatic Works Selected Orchestral...


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