Saturday, August 11, 2018

THE LOST JEWELS - THE FLOWERS OF WAR


Directed by Christopher Latham
Louise Page, Soprano
Edward Neeman, Piano
Anna McDonald & Christopher Latham, Violin
James Wannan, Viola
Paul Stender, Cello
Luminescence Chamber Singers
James Fairfax Theatre, National Gallery of Australia to 11 August

Reviewed by Len Power 10 August 2018

On the centenary of the end of World War One, ‘The Flowers of War’ shows what price Europe measured solely in terms of artistic loss.  According to the program, “‘The Lost Jewels’ is a statement of support for the aims of the EU and its role in normalising relations through diplomatic means”.

Weaving together music and art by the artists whose lives were cut shut in that period of history, ‘The Lost Jewels’ was a memorable and moving experience.  The stage setting with poppies strewn on the floor and the dim, shadowy lighting created a reflective atmosphere for the works performed.

Left to right: Anna McDonald, Edward Neeman, Christopher Latham, Louise Page, James Wannan and Paul Stender

Louise Page sang her many songs with great beauty and precision.  The highlight of her performance was the ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale and Final Scene – Love Death’ aria from ‘Goyescas’ by Enrique Granados.  This highly emotional and complex work was a real test for a singer and Louise Page conquered it superbly.  In addition, her singing of the final work that closed the concert, ‘Old Buddhist Prayer’ by Lili Boulanger, was intensely moving and its simple message of peace for all was clearly heartfelt by Page.  Listening to her, it’s hard to accept that she has announced her retirement for later this year.


Louise Page

Pianist, Edward Neeman, excelled with his solo playing of works by Debussy, Fragoso and Devaere and the full quintet of musicians shone with their playing of opening work by the Australian FS Kelly as well as works by the European composers Magnard, Butterworth and others.  The Luminescence Singers provided a haunting and delicate accompaniment to Louise Page in the final work by Boulanger.

The Luminescence Singers with Louise Page and the Quintet

Paintings projected behind the performers were very well chosen.  They matched the mood of the music items.

While the music was intensely moving, stirring a feeling of anger and sadness at the loss of all of these brilliant artists in that time period, the message in the Boulanger work ultimately expressed our hopes for a peaceful world for the future.

Photos by Peter Hislop

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.

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