Missing Light: The 306’s music
(Scotland’s National Theatre)
The National Theatre of Scotland was created to make its own laws, so it may come as no surprise that it is now a record label, but on the packaging of this 12-track album there should probably be some kind of health warning: “May induce weeping,” or something similar.
The 306: Morning, Day and Dusk music-theater trilogy was a highlight of the contributions of NTS to the 14-18NOW initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. In a co-production with Pert, playwright Oliver Emmanuel and composer Gareth Williams had an excellent cast and musical collaborators in the Red Note Ensemble to tell the tragic true story of the 306 men executed for cowardice and desertion
However, viewing this release of music from the three shows as only a reminder of certain site-specific and stage productions would be a mistake. This CD (also available as a download) stands eloquently on its own, to put it in perspective, with a minimum of details on the packaging.
Emmanuel and Williams give the singers and instrumentalists enough room to convey the pain of the young soldiers and the loss of those they left behind, with language pared down to the basics and sometimes similarly minimalist scoring. True relationships broken over a hundred years ago, reported at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, leap painfully from these performances.
The memorialized performances culminate in a recital of the men, but the tears can begin to flow much sooner, during the first of two trio recordings by Amanda Wilkin with cellist Sonia Cromarty and pianist Jonathan Gill (and musical director). It was probable that the album That Should Be Us was by Sondheim, but without the cynicism.