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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Miller    TWO WORLDS BRIDGED


The text's detached sense of uncertainty and anxiety, its tone of irony, is reflected by and deflected into Goebbels' postmodern musical collage both as background accompaniment to the extracts, often as a drone, or ostinato, and as illustrative commentary. The extracts were read in turn by each of the string players -- all women, who thus stand for Gertrude Stein herself, and some passages are rhythmicized, uttered as a refrain by all together, as with the phrase 'not anything had meaning and everything is just like that'. In between and during the texts we hear electronic ostinatos and hissing drones, suggestive of radio 'static', intermingled with musical snippets, extracts from Locke's The Tempest played by the OAE strings (Margaret Faultless, Miranda Fulleylove, violins, Jane Atkins, viola, Helen Verney, cello, Chi Chi Nwanoku, double bass) and a variety of memorable contemporary textures, a slowly pounding dramatic drum beat, a synthesizer bomb 'explosions' sequence, a jazz combo syncopated texture coloured with vibraphones, brilliant trumpet and brass solos, an atonal flute and clarinet duet illuminating the almost eccentric anecdote of a chicken theft, a richly coloured harpsichord solo and an incandescent theorbo interlude by Elizabeth Kenny.

Whilst this is all good fun, and certainly an important ingredient in Goebbels' recipe is a sense of fun, the main expressive contrast remains that between the slinky string textures and cadences of Mathew Locke and the 'new music', that which is intended to reflect Stein's bridging of two worlds through the historical comparison of Shakespearean and contemporary warfare. At the start one hears the dislocation of past and present as a separation of worlds, yet the work's progress and process, the transitions, both gradually overlapping and sudden, surprising, brings those worlds closer and closer together. In both text and music there appears to be a cathartic coalescence of the trivial and the transcendent so that, by the final stage of the work, concerned more with generalities of war and peace and the personal experience, the confrontation of Baroque and contemporary had indeed shifted to a more complementary, and quite beautiful, symbiosis.

Copyright © 19 July 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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