Colin Stetson


BY Mark Anthony BrennanPublished Apr 8, 2016

Colin Stetson has chosen to follow up last year's collaboration with Sarah Neufeld (the superb Never Were the Way She Was) with an entire album devoted to a re-imagination of Polish composer Henryk Górecki's powerful, albeit morose, Symphony No. 3.
There's much to enjoy here. The drama of the work is heightened by the power of metal music and bass synth, with the original themes of intense sorrow being blown up to epic proportions. All the while, Stetson breathes emotion into his saxophone that, along with the stunning vocal performance of his sister, mezzo-soprano Megan Stetson, lend a counterbalance of human directness to the compositions.
Without a doubt this is self-indulgence, and it's not without its share of folly. The inclusion of drums, for example, is mostly ill conceived. Although they manage to blend in fairly well in the third movement, their appearance in the latter stages of the second movement are intrusive, akin to playing stadium rock in the middle of an opera.
SORROW is impressive overall, but it leaves one itching to hear something more original and contemporary from this extraordinary talent.

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