A radio drama by Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith
$23 (Australian dollars)
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|The Song Company|
Peter Leech (conductor)
A powerful radiophonic work about the plight of Quito, a young East Timorese musician in Darwin who suffered from schizophrenia and committed suicide. Telling links are made between his story and the historyof East Timor. This CD was a co-production between Tall Poppies and the ABC. Also included are songs which occur in the drama, but here heard complete without other overlaid sounds.
Flowers are blue
Only those ...
I am the cock that killed the king
Quito, blown by the wind
|Unbearable fragility of life, November 24, 1998 |
Reviewer: A music fan from Sydney, Australia
Political and social issues have often found a powerful advocate in musical theatre, where an effective marriage of text, image and sound can reach beyond the specific and the immediate to the universal and the timeless.Such is the case with "Quito" by Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith. The work deals with schizophrenia, which afflicts Quito, a mild young Timorese man who fled to Darwin from the Indonesian invasion in 1975. The personal tragedy of Quito - shot through the throat by police responding to a domestic row, later found hanged by a pyjama cord in a Darwin hospital - evokes a compelling pathos.
However, Quito's schizophrenia carries a significance beyond his individual plight: the illness becomes a potent metaphor for the political situation afflicting East Timor. Consequently, the work explores both histories in such a way that the two accounts resonate with a moving and disturbing intensity.Much of the strength of "Quito" rests in the seamless integration of different elements: the many layers of meaning are reflected in the multi-layered collage of aural and visual effects, where prerecorded voices and electronic sounds mingle with solo and choral song (superbly delivered by the Song Company), while projected images in a series of graphic, documentary-like photographs fragment and disintegrate into thin air, evoking an unbearable fragility of life, individual and social.
Martin Wesley-Smith's music has never been far removed from political or social comment, and his gift for pastiche has served him well in adopting familiar styles, often (but not always) drawn from popular music, to ironic or satiric purposes.In "Quito" he excels in this technique, but his purpose has more profound intentions: employing a Passion motet by di Lasso ("Timor et tremor") he puns with deadly seriousness on the Latin text, and thereby implies the fear and horror that lie ahead. Adopting an English text to the music of the motet, and absorbing blues inflections and elements of popular and traditional songs into its pristine 16th-century harmonic world, he can comment on the present in terms of the past. The view is not reassuring: fear remains, and Timor is not yet free.
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