- Anna Livia Plurabella, electronic fragments from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"
Ever since its publication as a sneak preview of James Joyce's novel, Finnegans Wake, the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter has been the most popular excerpt. An account of gossip between two washerwomen sitting on the banks of the river Liffey in Dublin, the text includes a virtuosic display of multilingual puns on the names of the world's rivers, all woven into the dream language Joyce developed in the book. For this piece by the Dhau Ensemble, the text has been translated into Italian, broken into fragments, and complemented with a variety of electronic sounds. As a result, Dhau's "Anna Livia Plurabella" bears no audible resemblance to Joyce's writing, though that evolution of the material is an acceptable avant-garde usage, especially in light of John Cage's "Roaratorio" and "Writing for the Second Time through Finnegans Wake." The male voice that grumbles, growls, snarls, and cackles most likely imitates the sniping commentary of the two women, though without some background to the performance or its source, most listeners will find no obvious connection. The electronic sounds seem randomly generated and applied surrealistically, like odd scraps of a nightmare score, so perhaps the most intrepid fans of modern music who are accustomed to such complexities will find it challenging and compelling.