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'Gifted and Inspired'- Nadia Boulanger.

 
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From the Ice to the Fire. She’ll keep you guessing. You can touch her with your mind.

 
How any work of art comes into existence is often something of a mystery, not least to its creator.

First came the title. This came to Albert Alan Owen in a moment of inspiration. He is a champion of the notion that the African American musical language – the language of the Blues, Jazz, Rock, Broadway and 99% of Film Music - is the only universal mode of musical expression available to today’s composers, if they wish to actually communicate with ordinary people as opposed to specialists . His life’s work has been to explore this language’s serious creative potential.

The original concept was the result of a putative collaboration between the actress Sue Jones-Davies, of Raving Beauties and Life of Brian fame; the poet Douglas Houston and Albert Alan Owen. Blue Queen was to be a One Woman Show. Then it was to be a film with Michael Johns directing. Houston wrote a series of poems, musical sketches were written and recorded, but, as is so often the case in art, it came to nothing.

Some ten years later, the possibility of resurrecting Blue Queen came about as a result of watching Swansea’s Ballet Russe performing Coppelia. Seeing this old warhorse being performed – marvellously as it happens – got Owen’s creative juices flowing. As a pupil of Nadia Boulanger and Jacques Fevrier, he was directly connected to the Golden Age of Diaghilev in Paris. “What ballet needs is a new full length ballet, and I have just the idea for one”, he thought! Blue Queen was reborn. New music was written and recorded; a storyline was sketched out; an ambitious proposal was made to Ballet Russe involving a creating a new, a possibly unique, full length work for dance, film and music – but once more, nothing came of it.

 

This time, however, Blue Queen didn’t go back into his drawer!

Owen continued to work on, refine, and develop the concept. An old friend’s poetry – the marvellous Geoffrey Godbert – was the last piece in the jigsaw. These poems had been on Owen’s bookshelf for years and fate took a hand. He was, quite randomly, browsing through them when it hit him that they complemented Houston’s original Blue Queen poems perfectly. A simple Cinderella type tale was about to become a dark, complex Cinderella like story, open to a wide variety of interpretations, psychological, mythical and contemporary. There are echoes of Alice in Wonderland, the Cinderella story, ancient myths, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, or even the woman who lives next door.

The music on this CD is characteristic of all of Albert Alan Owen’s work. Beautiful, direct and accessible. As well as the above mentioned stylistic qualities, it should be noted that he was a pioneer of Electro-Acoustic music and remains to this day committed to using the latest instruments and exploiting the latest in technology. Everything you hear on this CD, even those with an acoustic source – Anita Gabriel’s recitation for example – is electronically manipulated in order to achieve a coherent soundscape. This does not mean, however, that the music is in any way “computer” like. Every note on the CD was played in real time. There is none of the mechanized perfection that you usually find in synthesized music. Owen plays synthesizers like any performer would play a traditional instrument.

Although the music on this CD, unlike earlier genre defining works such as Mysteries and Following The Light, does not break new musical ground, it does show a new direction for music as an art form:

Blue Queen has been consciously and meticulously crafted to be a work that exists and can be appreciated, analysed and interpreted on many different levels and in many different ways. It is at one time a musical work - pure and simple, or it is a film, a play, a dance work, a book or a dream.
 
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