Olagón: A Cantata in Doublespeak

Album review
Olagón: A Cantata in Doublespeak

Eighth Blackbird

Olagón: A Cantata in Doublespeak

Label: Cedille
Media: CD
Genre: Classical
Ratings:
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Eighth Blackbird is a consistently cutting-edge chamber ensemble. But “cutting edge” doesn’t necessarily mean abstract, difficult music. The group’s projects are all over the map stylistically, and their latest, Olagón—”a conflicted wail of both mourning and victory”—takes as its point of departure the Irish legend Táin Bó Cúailnge, a marital dispute of tragically epic proportions between the warrior-queen Medhbh and her husband Ailíll. The texts by Paul Muldoon bring the story into the modern era: Medhbh gets to where she’s going with the help of GPS and dies between two traffic cones. Muldoon’s lyrics feature “macaronic verse,” with English and Gaelic interspersed. The music incorporates sean-nós singing, popular, music hall, and contemporary classical syntax. It’s brilliantly played by the six musicians of Eighth Blackbird, plus Trueman on fiddle and several additional Irish vocalists. The sound is highly detailed, the vocals having pop music intelligibility without any sense of artificial overdubbing. An essential acquisition for those open to music that crosses genre boundaries to achieve the highest level of authenticity.

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Contributors:
  • primary artist, Eighth Blackbird

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