Songs for a mad world

5029385997656There’s no shortage of pandemic inspired music out there but I figured I wanted something that more closely evoked the sheer madness of life in Ontario right now.  So, I turned to a 1969 piece by my fellow Manc Peter Maxwell Davies.  It’s his Eight Songs for a Mad King inspired by that nutty old Hanoverian George III.  The genesis of the piece is quite complex.  It involves a music box, once owned by the king but by 1968 in the possession of the historian Steven Runciman.  Once used by the king in an attempt to teach bullfinches to sing, it provides the inspiration for the eight “tunes” that make up the Eight Songs.  The libretto is largely drawn from the king’s own words and other contemporary sources.

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Resurrection

resurrectionThis review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.

The 1994 recording of Peter Maxwell Davies’ opera Resurrection, previously released on Collins has now been re-released on the Naxos label. It’s a hugely ambitious and somewhat confusing work; even harder to get to grips with on CD than it might be with visuals. It’s an anarchic parody of establishment figures and attitudes executed via a pastiche of multiple musical styles.

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