Peter-Anthony Togni’s “Lamentatio Jeremiah Prophetae” is a contemporary concerto for bass clarinet and choir. Written in 5 movements for virtuoso soloist Jeff Reilly and the Elmer Iseler Singers conducted by Lydia Adams, it is an innovative and multi-faceted work; melodic, exploratory, passionate, and soulful.
“Lamentations” is the most ambitious and extensive collaboration to date of more than a decade of musical partnership between composer Peter-Anthony Togni and bass clarinetist Jeff Reilly. Peter and Jeff have worked together since 1998 in the trio Sanctuary, which has performed hundreds of concerts in Canada, the USA, Europe and Asia. Over these years Peter and Jeff have discovered a musical empathy between them that is rich, intense and lyrical.
Premiered in 2007, Lamentations was released internationally on ECM records in March of 2010.
Lamentations is a piece based on ancient texts, but it resonates deeply with our own time. The work is based on the sayings of the biblical prophet Jeremiah, whose heart-rending life and true prophesies of dire warning went largely unheeded by those he sought to warn.
It is an exploration of grief, atonement, despair and finally, hope.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah is represented by Latitude 45 Artists
“Of all the recorded offerings for Holy Week (2010), this is by some measure the most original and affecting that has come my way. Beneath a mixed chorus, Togni bravely inscribes a bass clarinet as his only instrumentation. It is a brilliant decision. The virtuoso clarinetist Jeff Reilly extends his cadenzas across the history of sound, from monotony to modernism, in a performance that is dominant and often hypnotic. I was smitten by Togni’s atmospheric force, imposing a contemplative mood with a gloss of consolation that is the quest of all faiths…. There is something epiphanic about this music; resist it, if you can”. 5 out of 5 stars *****
Norman Lebrecht, the Lebrecht Report – March 29th, 2010 – La Scena Musicale
“Under Jeff Reilly’s virtuosic control, the bass clarinet possesses an aloof, almost mystical timbre comparable to the duduk flute used in Middle Eastern music, aptly representing the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah’s lamentations in this piece by Peter-Anthony Togni.”
The Independent UK
“Togni’s Lamentations share aesthetic and spiritual ground with such composers as Osvaldo Golijov, Arvo Part and John Taverner, but it is the solo bass clarinet’s plangent, gritty and sometimes shrill personification of the prophet – which sounds “with the sadness of centuries” against the close, modal harmonies of the choir – that gives this setting its potency.”
Toronto Globe and Mail
“A compelling concerto for bass clarinet and choir a cappella, Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae is contemporary music that juxtaposes improvisational expressiveness and choral grandeur, jazz sensibilities and modern composition. There are fiery and energetic performances from an outstanding reed virtuoso and from one of Canada’s foremost chamber choirs, the Elmer Iseler Singers conducted by Lydia Adams.”
Presto Classical UK
The Elmer Iseler Singers are something of a miracle. So in another way is bass clarinetist Jeff Reilly. Given a profound, substantial and imaginative new composition to perform under the luminous direction of Lydia Adams, in the haloed halls of All Saints Cathedral in Halifax, itself no stranger to miracles, and you would be right to expect something extraordinary to happen.”
Halifax Chronicle Herald
“This setting from Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations is an unusual concept. Canadian composer Peter-Anthony Togni has written a five-movement concerto for bass clarinettist Jeff Reilly in which the clarinet is surrounded by atmospheric choral sounds. The clarinet becomes the voice of Jeremiah while the choir provides the crowd scenes. … The improvisatory, virtuosic performance of Jeff Reilly is outstanding – he makes the instrument speak – which in no way diminishes the vital contribution of this fine group of singers and soloist.”
Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir & Organ
Peter-Anthony Togni is considered one of Canada’s most significant choral composers, focusing on a distilled, potent aesthetic that communicates a profound sense of the divine. Outside of his choral focus, he also receives a steady stream of commissions for string orchestra, chamber music, concertos, film scores, solo organ and piano works. His compositions maintain a high profile in concert and on public radio across Canada, the USA and Europe.
The Elmer Iseler Singers, conducted by Lydia Adams, are one of Canada’s most illustrious and celebrated professional choral ensembles. The group has built a significant international reputation through its concerts, broadcasts and more than 50 recordings.