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Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies

  • Peter McCallum
  • Source: Sydney Morning Herald 6 October 1993

Five lullabies before interval: then Sleep (by Nigel Butterley), then Silence (by Elliot Gyger).

Perhaps sleep, like sex, is one of those things which is better to experience than to contemplate.
Sleep when it came, in the form of a musical aphorism by Nigel Butterley, was sweet, but

exceedingly short.

Silence, however, by the evening's talented and energetic conductor [Elliott Gyger], wasaltogether more substantial with graphic, even bizarre, word painting and some imagination in the variation of texture.  This piece, together with Haydn Reeder's The City, the River, the Elm, the Stone, seemed to me the most interesting music of the night.

Reeder's work set texts from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, and, while it did not altogether avoid the more predictable features of Joyce settings - volatile textures, fractured musical narrative, layered texts and multiple meanings - the piece approached the words with sensitivity, imagination and some affection for the material.