Life Reflected: an artistic collaboration commissioned by Canada’s National Arts Centre

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Estacio,Lizée,Morlock
LABELS: Analekta
ALBUM TITLE: Life Reflected
WORKS: Castri: Dear Life; Estacio: I Lost My Talk; Lizée: Bondarsphere; Morlock: My Name is Amanda Todd
PERFORMER: Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra/Alexander Shelley
CATALOGUE NO: AN28870

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Life Reflected is an artistic collaboration commissioned by Canada’s National Arts Centre. Blending new music, writing, dance and video, the work offers a powerful meditation on (female) experience and is by turns uplifting, unsettling, mischievous and deeply poignant, albeit with some contributions stronger than others.

Four different scores underpin the work. Strongest is the opening piece, Dear Life, setting extracts from Alice Munro’s semi-autobiographical short story of that name. Narrated with impeccable poise by Martha Henry, Munro’s text fizzes with humour and menace, while Zosha Di Castri’s orchestral score chimes and simmers below, erupting in wild, beautiful flurries (and also featuring a stellar performance by soprano Erin Wall). Jocelyn Morlock’s My Name is Amanda Todd is an elegaic tribute to a brave young anti-bullying advocate, while Bondarsphere celebrates the life of neurologist Dr Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space. Nicole Lizée’s playful, sweeping score evokes the thrill and danger of space travel, blending a soundtrack of spoken voice and electronica with live orchestra. The disc concludes with I Lost My Talk which sets a poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe and explores the systematic mistreatment of indigenous peoples. Joe’s redemptive text is spellbinding but John Estacio’s score (which admittedly accompanies a film, here unseen) feels saccharine in places, and the performance from the otherwise excellent National Arts Centre Orchestra seems patchy here. 

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Kate Wakeling