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“The first instalment of a projected cycle of 14 pieces that together will form a narrative of "the most famous recorded voyage that Orkney men ever made", namely the journey to and from Jerusalem during the Crusade of 1151. In other words, what Maxwell Davies has embarked on is a mythic-historical epic about religious war.

“Time alone will tell how this ambitious, ambiguous work will develop. The first section, Fifteen Keels laid in Norway for Jerusalem-Farers, dealing with the building of the Crusader ships, comes over as an exercise in heroic nostalgia and mystic spirituality. Brass fanfares push assertively upwards. Woodwind squalls hint at unfurling sails. Piccolo and bass clarinet circle each other, octaves apart, to suggest incipient menace behind the calm of the open sea.

“The slow central section juxtaposes Elgarian strings - a whiff of empire and an odd melodic reminiscence of the Enigma Variations - with a moment of timeless spiritual peace as a solo violin winds upwards out of a shimmering tremolando.”
—The Guardian [UK]

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