Davies / Psappha / Caine - Mr Emmett Takes A Wal | RECORD STORE DAY
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After announcing their new partnership with NMC Recordings - coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Manchester-based ensemble and record label - Psappha is delighted to re-issue another recording from their catalogue by close collaborator and founding Patron, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Mr. Emmet Takes a Walk is a musical depiction of a man's life flashing before his eyes in the moments before his suicide on a railway line. The chamber opera comprises Mr. Emmet's thoughts, memories, and ideas, told through musical fragments derived from material by four other composers; J.S. Bach, Robert Schumann, Andrea Gabrieli, and W.A. Mozart. All four are heard in the introduction of the work, and reappear throughout the course of the work, suggesting half-forgotten events of happier times in Mr. Emmet's life. Mr. Emmet himself represents an enigma: is he a business man with briefcase and umbrella pursuing the ultimate commercial contract, a double agent extorting a much shadier deal from a foreign power, or a tragicomical everyman sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of a lifetime to prepare himself for death? He is sung by a baritone (Adrian Clarke), and is supported by a bass (Jonathan Best) and soprano (Rebecca Caine) who more explicitly adopt multiple roles: she can appear as seducer, mother, chanteuse, he as piano teacher, engineer, waiter and ultimately as nemesis extracting the fatal signature. The drama is framed by the man and woman scrubbing the walls of the room, eradicating the memory of Emmet along with the dirt and blood. Originally a co-commission between Psappha, the St Magnus Festival and Muziektheater Transparant, this dramatic sonata was the first music-theatre work written by Peter Maxwell Davies after a gap of 17 years. David Poutney provided the libretto and directed the award-winning production, which Psappha premiered in 2000 at the St Magnus Festival.