Contemporary music that bridges the worlds of sacred choral works and improvisational gestures and affiliates the classical concerto and jazz sensibilities: "Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae" by Canadian composer Peter-Anthony Togni (born 1959) is a 55-minute setting of The Old Testament prophet's lamentations for solo bass clarinet, mixed choir a cappella and solo soprano. The piece was commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations and was given its premiere by the performers heard on this CD in 2007. Togni's idea originated in a request from bass clarinet player Jeff Reilly for a concerto in which dramatic narrative events would be enacted through the soloist's improvisations.
In his "Note for the Performers" included in the score Togni states: "Lamentatio Jeremiah Prophetae is a mixture of the virtuoso concerto and the concerto in its original significance …In many cases it features the soloist prominently but more importantly returns to the idea of the collective. The most unifying element being the sonic language itself, it relates to the concept of Klang, an idea often used by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. This idea focuses on the palpability of the sound-object itself as a primary expressive and structural element."
The work which, according to the composer, "is a direct expression of my Roman Catholic faith" conveys the story of Jeremiah's prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians, with the choir providing the crowd scenes and the bass clarinet as the voice of Jeremiah. As Keith Horner writes in his liner notes, the "prophet's story resonates as a universal tale of the wise man whose ministry and message of iminent disaster goes unheeded". The composer interprets Jeremiah as a prophet of our time: "It's the role of artists to bring issues to the public consciousness and to dramatise the dangers of complacency."
The concerto's five movements mirror the structure of the five poems of the Book of Lamentations. In selecting the text Togni re-visited choral settings he has long admired (from Tallis and Palestrina to Ginastera and Krenek), comparing his working process to editing a script, working in the manner of a movie director, building on the immediacy of the story as told in the Biblical poems.
Peter-Anthony Togni studied organ and composition in his native Canada and at the Schola Catorum in Paris. He is a co-founder of the group 'Sanctuary', an improvisation-based trio of bass clarinet, organ and cello and has received numerous commissions in various genres. Bass clarinet virtuoso Jeff Reilly has considerably expanded the technical range of his instrument; he has played with musicians such as Jerry Granelli and the duo of bassist Barry Guy and violinist Maya Homburger among others. Internet: www.petertogni.com
28-page illustrated booklet includes an introduction by Keith Horner and detailed information on the musicians involved