Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Jonathan Harvey - Speakings

Scena for violin and ensemble

Jubilus for viola and ensemble

Speakings for large orchestra and electronics

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
Elizabeth Layton (violin); Scott Dickinson (viola)

Aeon - AECD1090

'Harvey's music - ecstatic, inspired, filled now with contemplative rapture, then suddenly with exuberant, joyful dance, and always beautiful - has long stirred me regularly "with sweetness, through mine ear, dissolve me into extasies, and bring all Heav'n before mine eyes"'. [Andrew Porter]

Perhaps the time will come for Jonathan Harvey to find honour in his own country, and this important CD, recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, might be a portent? Meanwhile, his published performance schedule for March-November 2010 is revealing; with many performances abroad, a big Jonathan Harvey festival in Japan - and but one English premiere at a Cambridge chapel in November...

Harvey's music is sensuous, albeit built on structures (often with electronics) which the ordinary listener cannot be expected to 'understand'. The three works on this disc are centred on "the idea of a vocal presence", in two cases represented by violin and viola soloists respectively, referring to plainchant and Buddhist rituals, which reflect Harvey's long interest in world religions.

Speakings, for orchestra and real-time electronics "the most complicated and ambitious composition I have ever written", makes the orchestra sing "by an incomparable phenomenon of conjuring and astoundingly skilful use of timbres" [commentary by Bruno Bossis].

Surely that is enough to intrigue you and deplore the rarity of live concerts of Harvey's music in a country which so energetically champions "British Music", often to the neglect of exciting developments in our European neighbours...

Peter Grahame Woolf

See electronic music "which sounds like music" !

Harvey has recorded an interview on Future Radio, which is available as a podcast, and 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.