JAMES DILLON (b.1950): Philomela.
Catalogue Number: 12L095
Reference: AECD 0986
Description: Dillon's libretto, based on the myth that we know from fragments of Sophocles, elaborated by Ovid and later story-tellers, tells the tale of the woman, raped by her sister's husband who cut out her tongue to hide the crime, who nonetheless found a way to tell her story and who exacted revenge on the man by the sacrifice of his son, all being metamorphosed into birds by the gods, thus accounting for the melancholy song of the nightingale. The complex word-play of the music-theatre, alternating between narrative commentary and the potent imagery of Burroughsian cut-up, is accompanied by music of similar complexity, frequently atonal, jagged and agitated, though not excluding insistently tonal referents and rhythmic propulsion, to say nothing of lyrical vocal writing which underlines the human emotions contained in the fabric of the distant, ancient, fragmented and ambiguous narrative. A pre-recorded chorus and voice (of the child), and electronic transformations of these voices, provide an additional layer of depth, or detachment, or displacement, between the characters and the meaning of their actions, underlined in the text by borrowings from outside the myth. In both subject-matter and theatrical technique, the piece occupies a dark, alien space, with many images of solitude; the repeating pulsation of the sacrifice scene and the abstract, toneless recollection of the opening that precedes the final scene mark a progression into the darkest recesses of imagination. 2 CDs. Texts included. Anu Komsi (soprano), Susan Narucki (mezzo), Lionel Peintre (baritone), Remix Ensemble, Porto; Jurjen Hempel.