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Jonathan Harvey Orchestral Music

Tranquil Abiding (1999)
Body Mandala (2007)
Timepieces (1988)
White as Jasmine (2000)
… towards a Pure Land (2006)

Anu Komsi (soprano) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov (with Stefan Solyom on ‘Timepieces’).

NMC D141 [80 mins; rec. City Halls, Glasgow 2007]

Gramophone Award Winner 2008 · Klara Muziekprijzen Nomination 2008'There is so much to praise about the works on this CD that it's hard to know where to begin ... the musicianship here transcends questions of technique: all participants deserve equal credit for their involvement in a richly rewarding project' Gramophone

This award winning CD, featuring soprano Anu Komsi, deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. At the least, its sounds are exotic and rich, redolent of the Eastern mysticism that has long preoccupied this composer.

The first work creates a mood of tranquility by superimposing active events, 'melodic fragments', upon a steady oscillation between two notes representing slow breathing. Body Mandala creates an equivalent to Tibetan rituals which Harvey had experienced in Northern India.

In White as Jasmine the orchestra is joined by solo soprano for 6 ecstatic songs to Shiva, given without breaks - in English, but you'd never be able to get the obscure words without following the translation of the Kannadu text, so high is the tessitura.

Towards a Pure Land
is even more mysterious and complex; it is all music to experience and perhaps best not to try to 'understand'. The playing and its recording are superb and the whole unlike anything else. The sounds are accessible and beautiful approached on their own terms, and the commentator finds that it points towards 'still greater beauty both musical and spiritual'; aspects which will strike a chord to listeners of that bent, whilst the rest of us can wallow in the unquestionable beauty of the sounds themselves as expressed by Ilan Volkv and NMC's engineers.

The indispensible NMC has garnered many awards in 2008, others for New Music for Brass Band, Britten on Film, Joe Cutler, and a disc of Colin Matthews' chamber music (a prolific and versatile composer, and executive producer of NMC) which we have reviewed, named as The Sunday Times Pick of 2008 [http://musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd08/MatthewsNMC.html].

Peter Grahame Woolf