The Yellow Cake Revue

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The Yellow Cake Revue
by Peter Maxwell Davies
Language English
Composed 1980[1]
Performed June 1980 (1980-06): Stromness, Orkney[2]

The Yellow Cake Revue is a musical composition for piano and voice. Peter Maxwell Davies composed the piece in 1980. He first performed it at the Stromness Hotel, as part of the 1980 St Magnus Festival—a summer arts festival that he co-founded in 1977.[3] English actress Eleanor Bron recited the spoken word portions for the debut performance.[2]

The world premiere of the revue was in the Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern, Germany, on 5 May 1990.[1] It was performed by pianist Andrew Olivant, soprano Jayne Casselman, and Friedrich Schilha.[1]

Theme[edit]

The Yellow Cake Revue concerns the threat that a uranium mine might be constructed near Stromness, a town on the largest island in Orkney, Scotland. Yellowcake, the revue's namesake, is the form of uranium that was discovered on the island. When a geological survey revealed the yellowcake deposits in the early 1970s, the South of Scotland Electricity Board wanted to mine the uranium to fuel a nuclear power plant. Once the islanders understood the ramifications of solution mining the island, they (and the Orkney Islands Council) opposed the initiative unilaterally. Davies was moved to write The Yellow Cake Revue after a public examiner's report advised the Secretary of State for Scotland to deny the SSEB's request to mine.[2] Although he is English, Davies was an Orkney resident from 1971 until his death in 2016.[4]

Structure[edit]

The work is a sequence of cabaret songs and recitations, with two interludes for piano. The first interlude, "Farewell to Stromness", has become one of Davies' most popular pieces, and has been arranged for various instruments. "Yesnaby Ground", too, is often performed as an independent piece.

  1. Tourist Board Song: O come to sunny Warbeth
  2. Patriotic Song: You've heard of the man with the pace-maker
  3. Piano Interlude: Farewell to Stromness
  4. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 1: The Security Guard
  5. Uranium's Daughters' Dance: They said, when they'd extracted the uranium from the ore
  6. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 2: The Truck Driver
  7. Atlantic Breezes
  8. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 3: The Mental Healthworker
  9. Piano Interlude: Yesnaby Ground
  10. The Tourist Song: Have you heard of the terrorist suicide squad?
  11. The Triumph of the Cockroach: As earthquakes subsided

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Yellow Cake Revue (1980)". Boosey & Hawkes. London. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  2. ^ a b c Davies, Peter Maxwell. "Work Detail: The Yellow Cake Revue". MaxOpus.com. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  3. ^ "About St Magnus International Festival". StMagnusFestival.com. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  4. ^ "Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE (1934–2016)". Intermusica. London. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-18.