Extreme Unction

Christos Hatzis: Extreme Unction
Jeff Reilly, bass clarinet
Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kevin Mallon

A featured work on my upcoming release To Dream of Silence is a work by the Canadian composer Christos Hatzis: Extreme Unction. Set for solo bass clarinet and string orchestra, it is a powerful depiction of both the struggles against, and the final acceptance of the inevitability of death. The recurring theme that runs through this entire release is the power of the heart as an engine of transformation. In To Dream of Silence you hear the heart of the machinery of a vast basement, the pounding of a heart recovering from terror, a bursting heart upon witnessing indescribable beauty, the rich heart of our home and finally in Christos’ work we hear a heart beating out the final moments of life. Death, as this brilliant work by Christos shows us, is the ultimate transformation.


Extreme Unction is now available for download on bandcamp as an individual track.  jeffreilly.bandcamp.com

All tracks available on all download and streaming sites (Itunes, Spotify etc.. ) on September 29th

Christos Hatzis wrote this work using recordings of my improvisations that he then re-worked and orchestrated. Here is a letter I sent to Christos when I was preparing this work for the performance and recording of this piece last June:

“I have fallen in love with your piece in a truly complex way. It’s not all joy and light I have to tell you. Truth be told I am finding it hard to articulate what it is like to realize a piece that is so much me but also so much you. It is like we have had a strange musical baby together that has its own life that in turn describes death in such a chaotic, but nuanced expression. Hard, but beautiful. Hard to be me when my expression is chopped up, reset, orchestrated and returned with greater depth and power than any individual gesture could possibly express. My feelings around it are much deeper and more realized than they were in the Toronto performance. Maybe it’s the amount of time I have spent on it this time around, as now I certainly feel that I have wrestled this anguished beast into technical submission, while last time I think it was beyond my grasp…. but also I think it has to do with turning 60 – it changes you somehow. I hope you will hear all this in my performance, it certainly is my intention.”

Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra players:

First violins: Manuela Milani, Martine Dubé, Sara Mastrangelo, Geneviève Petit
Second violins: Solange Tremblay, Marjolaine Lambert, Maria Nenoiu,Brigitte Amyot
Violas: Catherine Ferreira, Sonya Probst
Cellos: Julian Armour, Thaddeus Morden
Bass: John Geggie

Conducted by Kevin Mallon

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