In his song cycle Crazy, T. Patrick Carrabré, dean of music at Brandon University, explores “border territory… mental illness or other demons” afflicting “composers who have lost their grounding in the ecstasy and anguish that is creativity.”
The first three songs – Death, Murder and Lust – reveal Carrabré having something powerful to say and not at all timid about saying it. His wife, pianist Mary Jo Carrabré, inhabits the keyboard’s left half, reinforcing the songs’ darkness while supporting the passionate vocalism of soprano Naomi Forman. Composer Carrabré adds what I consider unnecessarily intrusive electronics and percussion; the bass-heavy piano alone would have been more appropriate for the songs’ stark beauty.
The sombre mood changes with the fourth song, Burnt, evoking Spanish guitar music. Things go much further afield in the final song, Pain, a wailing rock song over the relentless loud thump of electronic dance music. An additional, speakers-bursting EDM “Audiation Remix” of Pain ends the CD, which also includes a stand-alone song, The Garden, for soprano and piano, thankfully sans electronics.
I’m mystified by Carrabré’s jolting venture into rock; the other songs display a genuine expressive talent that belongs in the concert hall, not the rock-concert arena.
At only 32 minutes, this CD left me wanting to hear more of Carrabré’s “classical” works (I’d previously heard only one), but glad to have heard the five non-rock songs. The texts, by Rilke, Tasso, Goethe, García Lorca and Marvell, are available, with translations, on the composer’s website.