Review: Who’d Ever Think It Would Come To This?

Posting a couple of links to some of my recent writing in the Journal of Music. First up, a review of “Who’d Ever Think It Would Come To This?”—an ambitious new cantata by harpist and composer Anne-Marie O’Farrell, with a libretto by war correspondent Ed Vulliamy drawn from real accounts of the Irish Civil War:

O’Farrell writes skilfully for the whole ensemble. Flourishes in percussion that enhance or unsettle a still chord; a ghostly tin whistle or uilleann pipe passage floating up from the centre of the orchestra. (It is a credit to the composer – and to the performer Mark Redmond – that these instruments, which often rub somewhat uncomfortably against the orchestra at large, felt utterly integrated.) The influence of film composers could be felt at times – bright brass chords in the vein of John Williams, or a motoric, almost jaunty passage for strings that evoked Bernard Herrmann. That latter passage is given a grim irony as the chorus sang of a brutal assault, ‘Tied him to the tail end of a motor car, / And pulled him behind for 3 miles.’

This was a very interesting work, and one that’s sat with me for some time now. You can still, as of my writing this, listen online.