Music and Vision homepage Cadenza Programme Note Library - Programme Notes by Mike Wheeler

 

<<  -- 3 --  Keith Bramich    MADRIGAL COMEDY

-------------------------------

The result is a virtuosic cabaret piece formed from snippets of letters and postcards, woven into complex strands and rhythms, with spoken and sung parts, drawing at times on acting, whispering and finger clicking. Williams has arranged the texts himself -- they range from the intimate ('Man I'm horny only for you', 'Deep inside I'm still that little boy ...') to the prosaic ('Regret we cannot increase your overdraft') -- using fragments of about fifty letters selected from several hundred. Hollingworth and the composer take the main speaking parts, standing either side of the stage, with six members of I Fagiolini, centre-stage, providing the sung parts and more spoken parts. Laughter from the audience indicates that the messages are getting across.

The music comes to a climax with the (spoken) words 'Damn you! Next time write me a decent letter not a postcard pretending to be a letter. Hardly a night I go out that someone doesn't ask me what you're doin'. I'm just waiting for you to respond in some way or another. You know, you really amaze me how you just abandon the family and that's that ...' Then, at the work's most contrasted mood change, in soft, poignant, secretive whispers come the words 'Don't worry, we're going to escape'. (Williams imagines that this, written on a postcard, was handed secretly from one person to another at some boring function!)

Robert Hollingworth (left) and Adrian Williams, celebrating at a dinner held by the concert's sponsors, Cheltenham College. Photo: Keith Bramich
Robert Hollingworth (left) and Adrian Williams, celebrating at a dinner held by the concert's sponsors, Cheltenham College. Photo: Keith Bramich

I Fagiolini enlist Adrian Williams' help again after the interval, as narrator, when the scene changes to 16th century Venice for L'Amfiparnaso (1597) by Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605), a commedia harmonica (comedy in music) in which a collection of the sweetest and most beautiful sounding Italian madrigals are combined with the most lewd, noisy, unsubtle visual on-stage entertainment imaginable. Visually, it's close to being a kind of fifty minute Punch and Judy show, but it's not all slapstick. There are some curious visual segues -- Frulla, in act 2 scene 5, arriving as Isabella is about to kill herself, and bringing news that her lover is still alive, snatches the dagger from her hand and uses it to peel fruit -- and some very poignant and beautiful scenes too, such as act 3 scene 4, with the entwining arms of lovers Isabella and Lucio.

Continue >>

Copyright © 9 July 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

-------

I FAGIOLINI

ADRIAN WILLIAMS

CHELTENHAM FESTIVALS

 << Music & Vision home                  Czerny >>