John Mccabe (1939- )

Donald Macleod meets British composer, pianist, writer and critic John Mccabe, who performs in the studio and discusses his life at the age of 70.



McCabe plays his own recent Study No 7 (Snowfall in Winter), introduces a Merseybeat-influenced work for recorder and strings, and discusses his early years growing up in Liverpool and working with John Barbirolli's great Halle orchestra.


McCabe performs Nielsen's Chaconne for piano, a work that got him into hot water as a young student, and talks to Donald about his love of variation form - what he describes as 'playing games with notes' - as we hear his Concertante Variations on A Theme of Nicholas Maw.

McCabe: Folk Song No 3 (John Peel) for soprano, clarinet and piano, Op 19 (1963)

Martin Hindmarsh (tenor)

Nicholas Turner (clarinet)

Alan Cuckston (piano)

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Nielsen: Chaconne, Op 32


McCabe talks about his great love of the music of Haydn, one of Radio 3's Composers of the Year in 2009.

As well as an excerpt from Haydn's celebrated complete sonatas recording, McCabe performs his own Lamentation Rag, written to mark Haydn's 250th birthday in 1982.

McCabe: Lamentation Rag (1982)

John Mccabe (piano)


Haydn: Sonata No 13 in G, Hob XVI 6 (excerpt)

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McCabe: String Quartet No 4 (1982)


McCabe talks about the challenges of writing for particular players.

There is a recording of Scenes in America Deserta, composed for the King's Singers, and the Flute Concerto, originally written for James Galway.

Plus two more of the composer's recent studies for piano - one performed in the studio by McCabe himself, and one by his great friend, and dedicatee of both pieces, Japanese pianist Tamami Honma.