There is a direct correlation between percussion and piano/celeste: the latter are often used as forms of percussion, or a means of providing a double texture to another instrumental sound, anything ranging from woodwind to strings.

“Music for String Quartet Piano and Celeste” is the creation of Teenage Fanclub drummer, Francis MacDonald: he has laid down the drumsticks to bring the listener on an altogether more celestial musical journey (every pun intended).


MacDonald has put together a beautifully melodic, acoustic instrumental album – uncompromising in it’s sincerity, clear in both sound and direction.

The opening track “Playful” gives a light, gentle, almost Summery start to the album; very Michael Nyman with it’s looping piano sequences (a method repeated in  “3 4 5”) which give it a somewhat hypnotic sound.

“20 Sep” is an altogether more melancholic affair.  Dreamy, with some very lovely piano layered over beautifully fragile string segments; it ends with light droplets of piano raining down on the violin; it’s pretty gorgeous.

The show stopper for me is “January Waltz” – it doesn’t require words.  Just listen, in stillness and quiet, giving it full attention, nothing more.

There is something of a Scottish feel about the string arrangements on this album – which comes as no surprise.  It gives the music an almost traditional feel, but in a modern classical context.  It adds to the warmth and depth of the sound, and I think it’s commendable that MacDonald has managed to cleverly incorporate this subtle indigenous timbre, which serves to distinguish the album from it’s contemporaries.

“At a Remove” is a minimalist lament which features some very skilful and honest piano playing: MacDonald has a very light touch on the keys, which gives his pieces a soft, gentle quality.  This piece could easily fit into the dream sequence of a ballet or film: for me, it is evocative of childhood memories, or an innocence of a time gone by.

Where “Playful” is light and airy, “Ghent” is melancholia. Possibly a sad love song, it is emotionally charged, and it’s depth of feeling is underpinned by exquisite musicianship.

One of the most fascinating pieces on the album is the track entitled “Triet for David Hockney”.  A short, lively, almost cheeky play of strings and celeste, it gladdens both heart and ears with it’s spritely enthusiasm.  “Spirited” I think is the word I’d use.

There are eleven tracks in total on this album which was recorded in Glasgow and, which features contributors such as the Cairn String Quartet, and, Craig Swindells & RSNO, amongst others.

“Music for String Quartet Piano and Celeste” is a thoughtfully conceived album.  It is a melodic journey from happy to sad, from light to shade, featuring some very talented musicianship.  It is a wonderful composition, perfectly crafted and elegantly performed.  Exquisite.

The album can be ordered directly from the Francis MacDonald website here –

Follow Francis on Twitter – @FranMacdonald

Or Read up about him on here –…


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