Willem Breuker Kollektief

Psalm 122

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Of the many diverse projects the Breuker Kollektief have involved themselves in, this might be their most ambitious. They are joined by member violinist Lorre Lynn Trytten's eight-piece string ensemble, vocalist/narrator Peter Halpern, Huub Kerstens conducting the New Music Ensemble and 40-member choir, and barrel organist Andre DeBoer. The theme of Psalm 122 (from Deuteronomy 16:1-17 of the Bible) is the story of a pilgrimage to a city later know as Jerusalem, and the settlers who established that city. The piece defies description, except that it is a continuous live performance at the Poothoorn Church in Amsterdam, combining Breuker's signature written music with Dutch libretto recited by American-born Halpern. The 76-plus minute production opens with fanfare and insect-buzzing strings to Andy Altenfelder's mournful trumpet, moves into a segment where the Kollektief briefly quote "Groove Merchant," ham up calliope sounds with DeBoer, then go into the actual Psalm, the arrival. Trytten's string octet evoke a hang-gliding feel under flutist Alex Coke's skittering solo for the instrumental highlight "Psalm 122, Pt. II." Halpern switches to English for the second fanfare "I Was Glad When They Said to Me." The final three segments are introduced by an organ short, the uplifting choir in unison with instruments leading into some pure dissonance for "Peace Be Within Thy Walls." As dramatic as Breuker's music is already, the accompanying entourage adds even more. It must be heard or witnessed as a whole, either on this disc or in performance. Likely this was a one shot, but what a blast it was. [This recording documents the performance of longtime Breuker alto saxophonist Peter Barkema, who died shortly after this concert.]

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