Enthusiastic Reviews for The Mad King

From printed newspaper critics to operaphile bloggers, reviews of the livestream premiere of The Mad King have been overwhelmingly positive:

“★★★★”

“Musicians as caged birds, how much more symbolic of corona times can it be?”

“The American-Dutch composer Brendan Faegre binds together Davies’ notes with various Handel fragments which he skillfully arranged for the New European Ensemble and instruments from the collection of the Utrecht Museum Speelklok. It’s beautiful how he lets the cuckoo and the nightingale from Handel’s Organ Concerto HWV 295 flutter back and forth between barrel organ and ensemble.”
– NRC

“★★★★★”

“The result is a realization of the Eight Songs that is comparatively far removed from the original and yet comes closer to it in the portrait of a confused spirit than any production that is limited to the music of Peter Maxwell Davies.”
– Bachtrack.com

“Stefano Simone Pintor develops a dramaturgy coherent in substance with the original work by Maxwell Davies, placing a “preshow” starring a petulant parrot who, speaking from a television screen, traces the fragmentary space-time coordinates on a plot of “musique concrète” composed for the occasion by Brendan Faegre. The sequel develops along the disorganized plot of the Eight Songs onto which Händelian episodes are grafted not so much to reference King George’s well-known love for the music of the “dear Saxon” but to refer to the spirit of those “stage props” evoked by Maxwell Davies to describe his work, delivered here in skewed and dissonant transcriptions by Faegre himself. The intention is not to fill the disconnected “memory gaps” but rather to amplify an existentialist attitude with a Beckettian flavor, suggesting a desire for solitude as a reaction to foreboding external threats.”
– Giornale Della Musica

“a bravura performance, and rather disturbing”
– Planet Hugill

“The Mad King is beautifully designed and the performance is excellent.”

“The musical universe was designed by composer Brendan Faegre. He clothes Davies’ Eight Songs with unearthly sounds from water bottles, homemade vegetable flutes and idiosyncratic arrangements of Handel fragments. Striking are the many short glissandi and the frantically tumbling motifs, which fit perfectly with Davies’ original.”
– Theaterkrant

“a visually opulent and musically robust production”
– O-Ton

“a delusional world with ghostly birds”
– Place de l’Opera

“Plenty of food for thought”

“This song cycle, which only lasts half an hour, was dressed up, decorated and enhanced with music by the American drummer and composer Brendan Faegre, who lives in the Netherlands. He creates complex bird noises and very simple sounds: whistling bottles of water, banging with sticks, hammers, hands and slippers…All in all, it creates a pleasant cacophony of sounds, produced by a baritone and only six musicians from the New European Ensemble.”
– De Groene Amsterdammer

 

To learn more, visit the Mad King project page.