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Harvey: Body Mandala, Timepieces, Tranquil Abiding, White As Jasmine ...Towards A Pure Land [CD]

Jonathan Harvey, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Ilan Volkov, Stefan Solymon
  • Composer: Jonathan Harvey
  • Audio CD (14 April 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Nmc Recordings
  • ASIN: B00163JH6S
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,756 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Tranquil Abiding - Jonathan Harvey
2. I (Who Have Nothing)
3. II
4. III
5. I Burned In A Flameless Fire
6. Not Seeing You
7. Not One, Not Two, Not Three Or Four
8. Listen, Sister, Listen
9. I Saw:Heart Conceive
10. Looking For Your Light
11. ...Towards A Pure Land - Jonathan Harvey

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This new NMC disc is the first orchestral music by Jonathan Harvey to be recorded, as far as I know, since Madonna of Winter and Spring, a Nimbus release from 2000, which featured the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the London Sinfonietta. BODY MANDALA includes four recent works performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov. This collaboration results from Harvey's position as Composer in Association with the BBC SSO from 2005 to 2007.

Of Harvey, relatively unknown in America, a few salient aspects might be noted. First, his French ties, both to Boulez and IRCAM and its electroacoustic technology as well as to Grisey and the "spectralist school. Second, his cohort -- born in 1939, he came of age in the 1960s with its experimentalism, as did the American composer Roger Reynolds, just a few years older. Finally, his Buddhism and interest in Hinduism. Of the five compositions here, three reflect Buddhist ideas, and one utilizes Hindu poetry. Only one piece ("White as Jasmine") actually uses electronics, though all draw on his knowledge of electroacoustic techniques and study of the sound spectrum.

The first work on this long and well-structured disc is "Tranquil Abiding" (1999 -- 14'46). It is haunting and beautiful, based on a simple two-chord oscillation, like breathing in and out, as in meditation. Complexity gradually builds, and the piece culminates with a sense of peace and clarity.

"Body Mandala" (2006 -- 13'18) is very different, full of percussion and rhythmic dynamism. Projected as the first work of a triptych, its theme is the purification of the body.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A profound listening experience 21 Feb 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Jonathan Harvey who died recently is a composer who has drawn on several religious influences for some of his music. His choral music for Christian usage is well known and highly regarded (and can be pretty difficult to sing, as I have experienced). But here we have music largely influenced by Buddhist traditions, and it makes for riveting listening -- but you need to sit (or lie) and allow it to permeate your brain. This is not background music.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sensual allure of a gentle modernist. 29 Nov 2009
Format:Audio CD
Even at its most demonstrative,there's never a sense of angry modernism in these often very sensual orchestral scores.If vocal lines can be a potential pitfall for the modern composer,it's not the case here with the swooping allure of `White as Jasmine` Superb performances which mark one of the most distinctive tenures in the history of this orchestra.
The linear notes are slightly less than one might have hoped-for example,vague or simply non exsistent regarding when some of the music was composed.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic orchestral works that reflect Harvey's Buddhism 10 July 2011
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This new NMC disc is the first orchestral music by Jonathan Harvey to be recorded, as far as I know, since Madonna of Winter and Spring, a Nimbus release from 2000, which featured the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the London Sinfonietta. BODY MANDALA includes four recent works performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov. This collaboration results from Harvey's position as Composer in Association with the BBC SSO from 2005 to 2007.

Of Harvey, relatively unknown in America, a few salient aspects might be noted. First, his French ties, both to Boulez and IRCAM and its electroacoustic technology as well as to Grisey and the "spectralist school. Second, his cohort -- born in 1939, he came of age in the 1960s with its experimentalism, as did the American composer Roger Reynolds, just a few years older. Finally, his Buddhism and interest in Hinduism. Of the five compositions here, three reflect Buddhist ideas, and one utilizes Hindu poetry. Only one piece ("White as Jasmine") actually uses electronics, though all draw on his knowledge of electroacoustic techniques and study of the sound spectrum.

The first work on this long and well-structured disc is "Tranquil Abiding" (1999 -- 14'46). It is haunting and beautiful, based on a simple two-chord oscillation, like breathing in and out, as in meditation. Complexity gradually builds, and the piece culminates with a sense of peace and clarity.

"Body Mandala" (2006 -- 13'18) is very different, full of percussion and rhythmic dynamism. Projected as the first work of a triptych, its theme is the purification of the body. It uses Tibetan bells and cymbals, and Western instruments played so as to approximate the sounds used in Tibetan Buddhist monastery rituals. Harvey drew inspiration from witnessing such purification rituals in northern India. "Body Mandala" is a quite visceral work, much closer to jazz than most classical music.

The disc closes with "...towards a Pure Land" (2005 -- 17'17), the last in the unfinished triptych, the theme of which is purification of mind. It proceeds in an arch, with a still section at the center, representing the Pure Land, "a state of mind beyond suffering where there is no grasping." There is a journey through some very energetic passages, but throughout are found ethereal, slow-moving harmonies which emanate from a small string group concealed within the main body of the orchestra, which Harvey calls the "Ensemble of Eternal Sound."

"Timepieces" (18'42), in three parts, dates from the 1980s. It uses two conductors (a la Stockhousen's "Gruppen") to lead ensembles in different tempos (a la Carter). The result is often humorous, quite jazzy, and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

"White as Jasmine" (15'39) was written between 1995 and 2000, along with "Tranquil Abiding," while Harvey was at Stanford utilizing its Centre for Computer Research into Music and Acoustics. Anu Komsi is featured on soprano vocals, singing five poems to Shiva written by the 12th century Hindu saint Mahadevi and her guru Allama Prabhu. Mahadevi died at 23 after wandering through the forest seeking Shiva. This peaceful and lovely piece culminates with an electronic passage representing her vision of an immense, transcendent light.

This is one of the best recordings of Harvey's music yet, and would certainly make an excellent introduction to his work for any who have not yet had the pleasure.

Definitely one of the best of the year for 2008!

(verified purchase from ArkivMusic)
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