Thursday 5 December 2019

Review: Wavy guitar over elegant cello to soothe the soul

Classical: Ergodos Musicians, Mill Theatre, Dundrum

Seán Mac Erlaine (left) who performed in the Dundrum show.
Seán Mac Erlaine (left) who performed in the Dundrum show.

Pat O'Kelly

Ergodos Musicians stem from the Dublin-based music and record distribution company Ergodos run by composers Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Garrett Sholdice. Both are also part of the ensemble that is currently on a seven-venue Music Network tour.

I catch the opening at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum for a relatively short but diverse programme ranging from 13th-century France to contemporary Ireland.

The music comes in arrangements by M/s Schlepper-Connolly and Sholdice and while they may leave the central vocal focus intact, what happens around it is highly imaginative.

Skilfully they mostly refrain from obscuring the central core of the original pieces so that one is consistently aware of their natural beauty.

In this 'celebration of song', Schlepper-Connolly and Sholdice, guitar and electronics, are joined by vocalist Michelle O'Rourke, Seán Mac Erlaine, saxophones and Kate Ellis, cello.

They create a haunting atmosphere from the outset with Perotin's Beata Viscera having an ethereal beauty. A move to Vivaldi brings a brighter mood with Ms O'Rourke's smoothly even tone gently accompanied by saxophone and plucked cello.

Handel is represented by arias from Semele and Theodora although I have reservations about the overlong prelude to Raise thou our hopes of endless light. Still, this, and With darkness deep, injects a welcome hint of agitation.

A 'song within a song' comes with Turlough O'Carolan's Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill with eloquent contributions from saxophone and cello and an expressive vocalise from Michelle O'Rourke.

Excursions into the recent past offer the love song Angels by indie rock group The xx and Donnacha Dennehy's Yeats' setting The White Bird. Here undulating guitar and saxophone lines are floated over elegant cello phrases.

Besides his playing role, Garrett Sholdice gives concisely informative introductions to music that acts as a soothing balm.

Irish Independent

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