Monday, February 26, 2007


by--Alfred Hickling 2/26/07 The Guardian

Nothing Like the Sun is an ambitious collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and Opera North, led by composer Gavin Bryars, in which five artists from the worlds of folk-rock to electronica have been invited to set the sonnet of their choice. Meanwhile, Bryars himself has composed an hour-long suite for two opera singers and a goth icon, former Virgin Prunes frontman Gavin Friday.
Natalie Merchant, formerly of 10,000 Maniacs, provides a folky lyricism to the autumnal imagery of Sonnet 73, while Antony Hegarty and Nico Muhly give the insomniac ode of Sonnet 40 a decadent, three-in-the-morning feel.
DJ Mira Calix adds an uncompromising overlay of industrial noise to "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun". But the most charismatic moment occurs when Friday stalks on in gold jewellery and inch-high brothel-creepers to intone Sonnet 40 like a diabolical lounge entertainer.
Bryars heads for the sonnets dealing with memory and mortality, establishing a dark sound-world based around violas, bass clarinet and electric guitar. A video accompaniment by Pippa Nissen adds a further atmospheric dimension: yet no amount of cross-genre eclecticism will ever match the richness of the sonnets themselves.
Well amen brother! Well done! I look forward to this!
I wonder if it will be as lilting or as biting as Sting's interp of Sonnet #130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"), which Sting used in the song "Sister Moon". I hope so. I love Natalie Merchant's voice--she has that throaty velvet that wraps around one's brain and claws into your spine.

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