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Buddhism and contemporary Western Music

Peter Wiegold

Earth, receive an Honoured Guest
Les Roses
Earth and Stars

NMC D158

Click on the above link for full listing.

An interesting disc, enjoyable without bringing to it relevant specialist expertise, especially in the first and last items with large ensembles.

The notes by Peter Wiegold and fellow composer Martin Butler are greatly helpful. We learn of Wiegold's complex relationship between improvisation and definitive scores, those sometimes only becoming fixed during late rehearsal and performance, and always subject to possible future revision.

Kalachakra is informed by Wiegold's Buddhist faith and he employs complex metrical patterns, e.g. "the proportions 32 and 9:4 give rise to 180 permutations..." Yet the music comes across as visceral more than schematic. Earth & Stars importantly lacks track timings to identify 6 sections interspersed with sweet Viennese harmonies.

A unexpectedly welcoming and enjoyable disc, one that makes you think about how music is made today.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Jonathan Harvey Speakings

Scena for violin and ensemble (Elizabeth Layton)
Jubilus for viola and ensemble (Scott Dickinson)
Speakings for large orchestra and electronics

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov

Aeon: AECD1090

Jonathan Harvey was the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's composer-in-association 2005/2008, and the most ambitious work to come out of that collaboration was Speakings, for large orchestra and electronics, the final part of a trilogy that Harvey built around the Buddhist concept of purification. Using computer analysis and the resources of IRCAM in Paris, Harvey was helped to find a way of translating the inflections of speech into the vocabulary of orchestral instruments.

The actual music may be impossible to "comprehend" but it is not difficult to enjoy and the BBCSSO rises to the task under Volkov; a huge British contribution to extreme cutting edge music of these heady days of a not quite new Century which is showing enormous developments in music, as in science, for those with unprejudiced ears.

To help, Harvey has recorded an interview on Future Radio*, which traverses the "isms" from Schoenberg to Spectralism and beyond, in a gentle and persuasive manner which will win him many friends. I urge you to access the podcast on futureradio.co.uk and do draw it to the attention of your music loving friends.

Speakings will probably prove one of the most important and enduring CDs of the decade, and Bob Shingleton's interview will become an iconic broadcast, a great credit to both of them (pictured above R).

Peter Grahame Woolf

* a community radio station based in West Norwich