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Electronics in the Music of Jonathan Harvey

Jonathan Harvey : Advaya and Ricercare una Melodia

Neil Heyde, cello
Paul Archbold, live electronics
Christopher Redgate, oboe

22 May 2009 14:30 - 17.00
Piano Gallery, Royal Academy of Music, London

Daytime free "further education" for music lovers is bountifully available in London. During the last week we have attended with pleasure and profit a Master Class and Lecture on French piano music (also at the Royal Academy) and a lunchtime concert of Crumb & Schnittke at Goldsmiths...

It was a huge privilege to attend the open rehearsal for a forthcoming concert at Kings Place with the composer Jonathan Harvey, who is mostly abroad (where his music is more played these days).

Hyde and Redgate are leading exponents of extreme cutting edge contemporary music, and the discussions this afternoon led us into the arcane mysteries of computer and live electronics assisted music making. In the cello work, one of immense complexity and a ravishing range of sounds, which one was (more or less) able to follow with a score made available, Paul Archbold had multiple simultaneous roles as keyboard player and manipulator of sound equipment including two CDs - prepared at IRCAM, so I gathered, and not without faults to be sorted out...

The dialogue with Harvey was illuminating; he took a relaxed view of possible interpretations of details in the scores, but was often specific about the quality of sound envisaged, thugh they were sometimes problematic to execute. Fingerings and bow techniques came under scrutiny, as did Redgate's oboe for realisation of timbres and chordal effects in a dialogue which demonstrated his encyclopoediac knowledge of the arcane extremities of what can be done with his instrument.

Run-throughs after each debate showed the work in progress towards what promises to be a fascinating evening in October at Kings Place. Neil Hyde, expressing appreciation on behalf of all of us, congratulated Jonathan Harvey on composing electronic music "which sounds like music" !

Peter Grahame Woolf

Harvey: Works for Piano and Flute
Florian Hoelscher, Pirmin Grehl

NEOS 10828

Harvey is an elusive composer, one who has had to rely on France and Germany for appreciation.

The latest of his CDs to come to us couples pieces for flute and piano, with works for piano and piano with DAT. It's all inscrutable, but has a surface attraction. The notes serve to tell you how little you know...

Glad to hear again the Tombeau de Messiaen, with the two components perfectly balanced (c.p. Heather O'Donnell's experience in live performance at competition in Rotterdam...).

People likely to buy it will know what to expect.


For a fuller review, see Musical Criticism http://www.musicalcriticism.com/recordings/cd-harvey-hoelscher-0709.shtml