November 2005

Talisker Players – Rumours of Peace
November 9, 2005Trinity St. Paul’s CentreToronto
An Invented Peace
by Stanley Fefferman
The paintings of Vermeer radiate a peacefulness the artist had to invent because his lifetime was riddled with the religious wars of the 17th Century. This paradoxical but sparky idea was spoken by Ross Manson who provided continuity between the six parts of the program by reading vignettes from Lawrence Weschler’s book of essays Vermeer in Bosnia. The program was a rich mixture of settings of war-related texts, some very famous, such as Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach”, set by Samuel Barber for voice and string quartet, Walt Whitman’s “The Wound-Dresser” set by John Adams for solo voice and chamber orchestra, and “In Flanders Fields” set by Stephanie Moore for two voices, string trio, horn and piano.
Terri Dunn
In general, the well-known texts seemed to get overwhelmed in a conflict rather than being partners in a marriage with the music. The lesser known, less demanding texts, particularly those presented after intermission, seemed to soar with the music into a realm of radiant harmony. Following the principle that perhaps less is more when words are set to music, the most glorious piece of the evening was Tenebrae, a setting for soprano, baritone and string ensemble by Osvaldo Golijov. The text is simply four separate letters of the Hebrew alphabet, ‘yod’,’kaph’, ‘mem’, ‘nun’ and the word “Yrushalem”. Teri Dunn and Jason Nedecky gave simply perfect voice to these mantric utterances which must have realized the composer’s intention to write music that “would probably offer a ‘beautiful’ surface but…one could hear, beneath that surface, the music is full of pain.”

Talisker gathers a sterling corps of musicians, composers, and writers into an intelligent space, full of invention, and is willing to risk experimenting with their resources. It would be a daring experiment if the group could manage to draw inspiration for a future program of vocal/instrumental collaboration from A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing, Jerry Granelli’s jazz setting of passages from Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Stanley Fefferman
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