Saturday, February 12, 2011

Deirdre of the Sorrows

Compact Disc Review

Reviewed by Linda Goodman

Deirdre of the Sorrows, by Diane Edgecomb with Margot Chamberlain, compact disc available from Diane Edgecomb, P.O. Box 16, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130 (617) 522-4335. Email: $15.00, plus $1.50 S&H. Suggested age range: 12 years through adult

To see Diane Edgecomb perform Deirdre of the Sorrows, accompanied by Margot Chamberlain on the Celtic harp, is to watch poetry in motion. Hearing this haunting story on this exquisite recording conjures up images of both beauty and horror, leaving the listener breathless. Do not plan on listening to this recording and then going back to business as usual. It may take a while to recover composure.

Edgecomb and Chamberlain first met to work on Deirdre in 1989. The hauntingly beautiful musical arrangements by composer Tom Megan and Edgecomb’s extensive research into the life and world of the pre-Christian Celts have produced an unforgettable adaptation of this ancient tale. It begins at the Feast Samhain at Emain Macha, where Deirdre is born suddenly while her mother is serving the harsh and demanding High King at his banquet. A druid predicts the child will have a beauty so powerful and yet so destructive that it will bring about the ruin of Ulster. .

Though warned by a kinsman that he should take heed of the prophecy and destroy the child, the High King, perhaps feeling himself above prophecy, selfishly decides to send her to be raised in the wild by Lavarcham, a woman servant he deems to be trustworthy. No man is to touch Deirdre until she becomes old enough to be sent back to the High King.

The name Deirdre means sorrow, and sorrow is what she brings to all who love her. Deirdre has visions of the man she will love, and she holds onto her dream until she finally meets him in the flesh. Edgecomb skillfully paints their love affair in a way that makes us feel we are spying on secret lovers who do not know that we are there. Chamberlain’s Harp takes us back in time, and we cannot help but get caught up in the passion. The intensity between the two young lovers is palpable and real. We do not doubt their love for an instant.

Of course, only sorrow can follow such an all-consuming love. Omens of betrayal and tragedy appear throughout the story, and we know that it will not end well. But it does not matter that we know. By the time that Deirdre and her naive lover journey back to Emain Macha, we cannot help but go along with them and witness their last moments together as they seal their fate.

This story is timed perfectly to rise and fall with the crescendo of the harp. The characters are distinct and vivid. They will visit you in your dreams. Even though they break your heart, you will not be able to let go of them.

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