'My Dear Siegfried' :
No Man's Land -
'... as much affinity with trance/techno as with modernist art music ...'
My Dear Siegfried is a two-CD set from the experimentalist New York musical scene which produced Hyperrealism, reviewed here in September 2004. The composer this time is David Behrman. He performs (keyboard and live electronics) with three vocalists, two wind players (shakuhachi and trombone) and an 'engineering and special effects' colleague who also deserves to be mentioned among the performers.
The title work, composed in 2005, fills the first disc. The five earlier works (1972-2002) on the second disc provide a window into the composer's development.
Standard terminology is hardly applicable to Behrman's work but thinking of My Dear Siegfried as a song-cycle rather than a single piece clarifies its structure.
Its texts are drawn from the writings of two figures who were well known in their day but are now rather in eclipse. Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) became known as a poet during and just after the First World War, alongside Rupert Brooke and others. He went on to become a significant member of the English literary establishment; he published a fictionalised autobiography in three volumes, 1928-1936, and later a genuine one, as well as poetry and journalism. Sam Behrman, father of the composer, began his career as a New York Times reporter and became a successful playwright and screenwriter in the 1930s and 40s. The two writers met in 1920 and maintained a long-distance friendship for decades afterwards.
Copyright © 23 July 2006
Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia