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Peter-Anthony Togni: Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae


Jeff Reilly: bass clarinet

Rebecca Whelan: soprano

Elmer Iseler Singers

Lydia Adams: conductor


ECM 2127


A trip back to the 1990s with this time capsule of religious vocal harmonies and free-style bass clarinet.

Comparisons with Jan Garbarek’s Officium
with the Hilliard Ensemble are unavoidable, although this is a single work by a single composer, so even the fun of Officium’s kitschy sacrilege has been traded for earnest sincerity.


The vocal writing is sweet, vaguely Renaissance-y, lightly spiced with the odd dissonance here or there, but nothing too frightening. It will suit those who used to lap up every Arvo Pärt ECM released, but there’s none of that composer’s complex austerity (don’t forget that Pärt’s expressive brilliance comes not from writing nice atmospherics, but from an absolute commitment to strict compositional process).


The clarinet writing is more interesting, spanning the range from childishly simple modal melodies to somewhat more vigorous cadenzas of extended techniques (in which Jeff Reilly’s playing should be praised), but it’s not enough to lift this disc from its comfortable slumber in the past.


Tim Rutherford-Johnson


q.v. The Guardian: the bass clarinet possesses an aloof, almost mystical timbre comparable to the duduk flute