Quoting the composer- “The work is in two distinct sections but performed continuously. The first deals with the tragedy and the immediate aftermath, and the second moves from darkness to light, reliving memories and celebrating childhood, ending with the Lux aeterna.” He also states that it “is not a documentary, nor even a dramatization, but it does include ideas and facts that were relevant and by now part of the legacy.”
The music may not be a dramatization (as per the composer), but there are musical “suggestions” of events, i.e. the rumbling in the opening movement Pitran, patran foreshadowing the collapse of the coal spoil tip.
The names of all the victims are recited in the third movement Cortège (in a chant-like manner on a B-flat throughout). It was a reminder that this tragedy was not just about the numbers lost, but the very real lives snuffed out, the majority of them just beginning. Combined with the footage of the funerals, with countless tiny coffins, it was heartbreaking. Cortège ended with the baritone soloist quoting the denunciation by a victim’s father, “Buried alive by the National Coal Board.”
Lament to the Valley which follows is hauntingly beautiful; the Lament may well be the highlight of the Cantata.
The bird-like soprano piece Did I hear a bird? is delightful.
Of the remaining sections, we should single out And-a half as a favourite, with the child-like “one-upmanship” the theme which only could make one laugh and smile.
The final movement, Lux aeterna, is “borrowed” from the Requiem. Ending with the soprano soloist singing the word “Light,” the circle from darkness to light was closed.
Cantata Memoria is a work that takes the listener to the depths of despair and heartache, then lifts them back out with a message of hope and light. It is an incredibly moving experience.
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Robert can help with bookings 03 5428 7033.