Do we dream in black and white, as wisdom once had it? Not if this concert by soloists from the Orchestra of the Swan is to be believed, for The Interpretation of Dreams is filmed in the digital equivalent of Panavision and glorious Technicolor. The title derives from Sigmund Freud, of course, a figure whose voice is heard more than once during this hour-long compendium via actor David Acton’s Mel Blanc-ish vocal impression.

Lana Williams
© Orchestra of the Swan

Cards on the table – I’d been looking forward to this show. The trailer made it seem stimulating with its musical variety and deft up-front choreography, while the sensory promise of a sonic dreamscape tickled my imagination before it started. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have tickled that of deviser and creator David Le Page whose choice of excerpts for his modestly-proportioned ensemble would sit well for an hour of easy-listening radio but do not coalesce into a notable event.

Did rights issues prevent Le Page from featuring the advertised music by Angelo Badalamenti? It would have been his Twin Peaks score, I’m guessing, and a more potent example of dream music would be hard to imagine. In its absence the most evocative piece we have is Ilusiones perditas by Ignacio Cervantes, an ethereal tango that invites the mind to meander through a hallucinatory ballroom of faceless figures.

David Le Page
© Orchestra of the Swan

Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and Tartini’s The Devil’s Trill are divvied into in three bite-sized chunks apiece, redoubtable showpieces for Le Page’s adroit violin but low on dreamy atmosphere. Much more effective in this context is Le Page’s instrumentation for his ensemble of Liszt’s extraordinary Nuages gris, a piano piece whose hypnotic rising triads beguiled film director Stanley Kubrick to use it in Eyes Wide Shut. Of the rest, Liturgie de cristal, the opening movement of Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps, makes an attractive but not especially dreamy choice – some of the ‘contemplations’ from his Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus would have fitted the bill rather better – but the violinist’s nifty arrangement of Pat Ballard’s joyous 1950s pop madrigal Mister Sandman supplies a fair few wide-awake smiles.

Le Page and his fellow musicians Nick Stringfellow (cello), Marianne Schofield (double bass), Sally Harrop (clarinet), David Gordon (piano and Tim Farmer (percussion) play with agility and uniformity throughout, their virtuosity punctuated by the occasional floor contribution by Lana Williams, a talented dancer whose work the producers at Woodbury Studios show in full only rarely, bizarrely opting for half-glimpses in their fussy edit.

The Interpretation of Dreams
© Orchestra of the Swan

There is no accredited choreographer for Williams, nor any speech director for Acton’s interpolated readings, and the absence of both is keenly felt. Acton in particular disrupts the evening’s flow in speeches that were presumably selected by Le Page but, as hinted above, are delivered by the actor in a range of funny voices: cod-Austrian for Freud, cod-American for William S. Burroughs and cod-knows-what for the Polish futurist Stanisław Lem. It’s a mercy they spared us his Carl Jung.


This performance was reviewed from the Orchestra of the Swan video stream

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