Magazine article Opera Canada

Responsio

Magazine article Opera Canada

Responsio

Article excerpt

RESPONSIO

TOGNI

ATMA: ACD2 2731

Responsio is subtitled "A contemporary response to Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame" and that is exactly what it is. It weaves sections of Machauts 14th-century mass with sections designated "Response one," "Response two" and so on, which are a kind of commentary on Machauts music. What's really interesting, though, is the way composer Peter-Anthony Togni arranges the source material. It's scored for soprano, mezzo, two tenors and bass clarinet. Togni's use of high voices seems to emphasise the originality of Machaud's music, which must have sounded pretty radical to its original audience, and helps him bring out some fairly weird rhythms and harmonies in twisting and shaping the vocal line. So non-mediaeval did some of these textures sound that I went off in search of the source material. There's no doubt that Togni has arranged things to bring out the strangeness, but it is very much there in Machauts original score. Then, alongside the vocals, there is the bass clarinet, which, part scored and part improvised, provides a compelling, even disturbing, commentary in a more obviously contemporary vein. …

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