Following David Sawer’s widely acclaimed 2009 Sound Investment commission Rumpelstiltskin, The Lighthouse Keepers is a claustrophobic tale for two actors and an ensemble of nine musicians. Based on a 1905 French play, it’s set at the top of a fifty-metre high lighthouse, six miles out to sea. With a storm raging outside, a secret is revealed between father and son just as a ship approaches the rocks…
BCMG premieres this new work alongside Samuel Beckett/Morton Feldman’s intensely moving Words and Music, where Joe (Words) and Bob (Music), struggle to formulate expressions on themes including love and age under the command of the mysterious Croak.
David Sawer: The Lighthouse Keepers (BCMG Sound Investment and Cheltenham Music Festival co-commission / world premiere)
Samuel Beckett/Morton Feldman: Words and Music
The spare, fragile utterances of Music were newly composed in 1986 by that great American master of muffled understatement Morton Feldman. They were played with the utmost eloquence and delicacy, supporting Joe’s occasional halting attempts to sing in a way that was enormously touching.
… in Beckett and Feldman’s piece the text and music seem symbiotically linked, even though they were composed 26 years apart … even with just three loudspeakers on view to the audience to convey words and music, it was totally involving.
With artful sound design by Stephen Hughes and John Gale, the sea pounds, a gale roars and the fine players of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, send plenty of shivers up the spine. Sawer’s score is meticulously written (even the voice parts are strictly notated) — taut and economic in its jagged motifs, its high, searing chords and its screaming trumpets…
[The Lighthouse Keepers] is a superbly atmospheric piece with sympathetic portrayals of father and son by William Oxborrow and Thomas Howes. The 11-strong ensemble under Martyn Brabbins’ fine direction demonstrated that you don’t need a huge symphony orchestra to conjure up a storm.
After the interval in the elegantly gracious Parabola Arts Centre it was all change for the seriously challenging radio play Words and Music by the biggies Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett, no less. All performers were banished behind the curtain, so all we had to engage our vision were three loudspeakers conveying the delivery of actors and musicians. And wow, how it worked.
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