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Archive for November 5th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

      Few classical or opera afficionados have even heard of British “Queen of Early Music” Emma Kirkby, much less have been aware that she is considered one of the ten greatest sopranos of all-time according to BBC Music magazine.  A former classics student at Oxford and English teacher, Kirkby made her mark as a soloist with little-known renaissance and baroque repetory, and in 2007 was appointed “Dame Commander” of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honor’s list.

     Declaring the lute as the biggest inspiration of her career, she has in recent years collaborated in concert with renowned lutist Jakob Lindberg, with whom she appeared on Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in an afternoon “Orpheus in England” venue that featured music by John Dowland and Henry Purcell on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the latter’s death.  The soothing timbre and controlled vibrato of Kirkby’s expressive voice was magnificently complemented by the seductive tone of the lute, which Lindberg strummed with his fingertips on an instrument several hundred years old.  Between Kirkby’s solos, which he underscored with his gentle accompaniment known in the baroque period as basso continuo, Lindberg offered some exquisite solo work of his own, including Dowland’s “Prelude and Fantasia” by a sixteenth-century composer known for his own glorious lute playing.  Unquestionably the most sublimely beautiful moment in this nearly two-hour concert occured right before the intermission when Kirby sent shivers down the spine of those in attendance with a faultlessly modulated, piercing delivery of Dowland’s electrifying In Darkness let me dwell, where the singer lingered over the predominantly one-syllable phrases that comprised one of Western music’s most shattering compositions:

“The ground shall sorrow be; The roof despair, to bar/All cheerful light from me.  The walls of marble black That moistened still shall weep; My music hellish jarring sounds To banish friendly sleep.  Thus wedded to my woes And bedded to my tomb, O, let me living die, till Death do come.  In darkness. (Anon.)  The lyrical beauty and dexterity of the passage is conveyed powerfully by the melancholy progression, especially the unresolved harmony that ends the song, which sounded all the more trenchant as it echoed through the church. (more…)

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Rosetta (no 31)

rosetta 1

(Belgium/France 1999 94m) DVD2

Why me?

p  Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne  d/w  Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne  ph  Alain Marcoen  ed  Marie-Hélène Dozo  m  Jean-Pierre Coco  art  Igor Gabriel

Émilie Dequenne (Rosetta), Fabrizio Rongione (Riquet), Anne Yernaux (Mother), Olivier Gourmet (Boss), Bernard Marbaix (camp manager), Frédéric Bodson (head of personnel), Florian Delain, Christiane Dorval,

The cry of desperation from our eponymous heroine comes in the opening scene, an extended sequence where we see her march along the various corridors and warehouses of a factory where she has just been told she has been let go.  She cannot understand why they are letting her go, she’s a good worker.  The thing is, it’s the end of her trial, and she just cannot accept that she is returning to the ranks of the unemployed.  Finally, manhandled off site by security, we next see her by the roadside eating, wearing the same jacket and unflattering stockings that we will see her in for the rest of the film.  Welcome to the grim world of the Dardenne brothers.

            Rosetta is a teenager who lives in a caravan site with her alcoholic mother, and her only concerns are trying to keep her mother away from the booze and her slime-ball boyfriend, while trying to get herself a job that lasts and get a bit of security.  At every turn, it seems, her aspirations seem to fall flat, and her anger and frustration intensifies. (more…)

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