Michael Harrison: Revelation

Michael Harrison: Revelation

by Michael Harrison
     
 

New York-based composer Michael Harrison studied Indian Classical music with Pandit Pran Nath and worked very closely with composer La Monte Young on his magnum keyboard opus, The Well Tuned Piano. Harrison is regarded as an expert and creative mind in the field of tuning and the possibilities inherent in "just intonation" whereSee more details below

Overview

New York-based composer Michael Harrison studied Indian Classical music with Pandit Pran Nath and worked very closely with composer La Monte Young on his magnum keyboard opus, The Well Tuned Piano. Harrison is regarded as an expert and creative mind in the field of tuning and the possibilities inherent in "just intonation" where the distance between pitches is derived from mathematical formulas rather than from the familiar system of equal temperament used in the tuning of most pianos. After a 1999 concert in Europe where Harrison performed as part of a piano quartet also comprising Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Charlemagne Palestine, he happened to conceive a tuning that maximized the number of "commas" available on the piano. A comma is a minutely different tuning of the same pitch; Harrison was well aware that it was the comma that early piano makers sought to eliminate, developing equal temperament as means to avoid it. For the nest six years, Harrison worked on exploring the timbral possibilities of this "revelation" tuning, as he termed it, and ultimately produced his "magnum opus," Revelation, of which this Cantaloupe release is the first recording. Harrison performs the work himself, and there is no question that the sound of the piano is substantially changed through the tuning -- the massed, cloud-like web of mixed tonality that emerges from the piano in the course of the 72-minute piece is truly something to hear. To ears intractably wedded to the sound of equal temperament, Harrison's revelation tuning might sound bitter and "out of tune"; and those in favor of just intonation over equal temperament advocate for the former system with an almost political zeal, as they should -- it is a political problem. However, this same zeal can be a turn-off to some; in a way, it is smart that Cantaloupe did not elect to include any necessarily lengthy notes within the package itself, reserving their place on the Cantaloupe website instead. As a listening experience, Michael Harrison's Revelation fully lives up to its name, a maverick piece that skirts the expected and delves into the sound of the piano in a different way than before, not scraping a single string or dragging a chain across the soundboard, nor knocking on the case, throwing a fish inside it, whatever. The ringing overtones generated in the air through Harrison's playing create a harmonic texture that is narcotic, mysterious, and otherworldly; those who enjoy some measure of adventure in their music will come away from Revelation richly rewarded.

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Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
1/2 [Harrison is] no slave to his own logic, and goes to particularly ecstatic heights, almost in the spirit of Chopin, suggesting that he's a romantic in minimalist clothing.
San Francisco Chronicle - Joshua Kosman
Gripping.... Overtones gather in dense fogs in the "Tone Cloud" movements, and Harrison's melodic strands - sometimes crisp and eloquent, sometimes long-winded - draw listeners through them.
Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
"Revelation" is what a mad scientist might hear as a lullaby. Some will run from it; others won't be able to get enough.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/09/2007
Label:
Cantaloupe
UPC:
0713746304324
catalogNumber:
21043
Rank:
353107

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