Translucence

A secular Stations of the Cross
The Times *****

Mckevitt made beauty out of grief
Evening Standard ***** 

A contemporary ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’. Record of The Month
Gramaphone ***** 

A moving evocation of love and loss
Classic CD ***** 

Background

In 1992 I was approached by Simon Fisher Turner to set some of the script for Derek Jarman’s film Blue. I chose two poems – ‘Blue is darkness made visible’ and ‘I am a mannish muff diving size queen with bad attitude’ which were sung by myself and my two fellow band members Katharine Blake and Kelly McCusker at Brian Eno’s house which was quite exciting for us youngsters! Anyway, we got the tracks down and everyone was very pleased, I then asked if I could have a look at his film scripts and Derek was happy to let me go on and set some more of his work. I never met Derek myself, but Simon, his own music man, often passed on an encouraging word from him until the horrible day I learnt of his death. Obviously, we all knew it was coming but inevitably it was a terrible shock and I remember writing ‘I sit here immobile’ that day and I remember the sorrow I felt at losing such a beautiful man. As I already mentioned, I didn’t meet Derek but I am sure I am not alone in feeling I knew him to some extent through reading his candid and honestly written diaries Modern Nature and Dancing Ledge.

Translucence took about five years to complete. I wasn’t in any hurry, I had no commission, no deadline and it was definitely a labour of love so I wanted to make sure I got it exactly right. My partner and manager at the time Don Mousseau would come home from work and say “did you get much done today darling?” Yes,” I’d reply…”I changed one note!!” That was what it was like.

Translucence was picked up by Warner Classics and recorded at Brandon Hill and not long after the recording was finished Michael Chance offered up the second half of his recital at The City of London Festival to premier the work. It was a great success. You can see from the reviews on this site that the work was very well received, so you can imagine how disappointing it was when the record was pulled from every store world wide just a few days after it’s release. For legal reasons I’m not allowed to go into any detail but the executor of Derek’s estate was not happy that I composed this work so a small legal ruck ensued and the whole thing went underground for a few years until it was released again on Dharma in 2004.

There’s not much sign of Derek’s work around these days so I am really happy that his poetry lives on in this work.

Credits

Michael Chance – Countertenor

Melanie Pappenheim – Mezzo soprano (soloist)

Kelly McCusker – Soprano

Donna Mckevitt – Contralto

Catherine Manson – Viola

Caroline Dale – Cello

Recording Producer – Andrew Keener

Executive Producer – Don Mousseau

Translucence – Derek Jarman and Donna McKevitt 

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