Less than the sum of its parts

Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera, which is currently playing at Meridian Hall, takes Roger Waters’ words from the original album The Wall and sets them to music by Julien Bilodeau which is new but based on the original melodic lines.  The stage production, conceived and directed by Dominic Champagne, is flashy (often literally) and makes extensive use of projections.  There’s a decent cast of Canadian singers (including Nathan Keoughan, France Bellemare, Caroline Bleau, and Jean-Michel Richer), a rather good chorus and a symphony sized orchestra all conducted by Alain Trudel.  It’s loud, expensive looking and in your face.  On paper all the elements of a sort of cross-over opera spectacular are there but they simply don’t come together.

6-AnotherBrickintheWall-photosbyYvesRenaud

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Whispers of Heavenly Death

small-whispers-of-heavenly-death---front-coverWhispers of Heavenly Death is a new CD of song settings by Scott Perkins. It’s a generously filled disk with nine works amounting to some 33 tracks.  First up are five Walt Whitman poems from the eponymous collection.  The settings are sparse but quite varied with legato vocal lines handled nicely by the dark toned mezzo Julia Mintzner.  Accompaniment, as on the rest of the disk, is by Eric Trudel.

Six settings from the Holy Sonnets of John Donne follow sung by soprano Jamie Jordan.  The music here is spikier and set much higher.  It suits Jordan’s light, bright soprano.  My favourite tracks are next; four settings of riddles from the Exeter codex sung by baritone Dashon Burton.  They are very varied. Ic eom ƿunderlicu ƿiht is jerky and set very high for baritone with arpeggio accompaniment. Moððe ƿord fræt is very rhythmic while Ic ᵹefræᵹn for hæleþum is in a very beautiful, liturgical, vein sounding more medieval than the rest. Ƿrætlic honᵹað gets perhaps the only blues setting an Old English text has ever got! The very short Ƿundor ƿearð on ƿeᵹe is just plain weird.  Plenty here for any Old English geek.

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