Jonathan Harvey: Body Mandala; Timepieces; Tranquil Abiding; White as Jasmine; Towards a Pure Land

Jonathan Harvey: Body Mandala; Timepieces; Tranquil Abiding; White as Jasmine; Towards a Pure Land

by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra


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Jonathan Harvey: Body Mandala; Timepieces; Tranquil Abiding; White as Jasmine; Towards a Pure Land

British composer Jonathan Harvey has all the credentials of a classic modernist, and while his music would never be described as making the slightest concession to the New Accessibility of the late 20th century, the attractive, colorful surfaces of his work coupled with unerringly visceral intuitive development makes him a composer who can appeal to more than just hardcore new music aficionados. That's not to say his music is easy or always pretty, but attentive listeners may be surprised at how communicative and sensuous it can be. Harvey's work is frequently informed by mystical spirituality, most frequently Buddhist, but also drawing on Christian and Hindu traditions. This disc includes five substantial orchestral works written between 1987 and 2006. The earliest, the three-movement "Timepieces," is an impressionistic study of mechanization, with the clocklike rigor suggested by the title subjected to ever shifting, surreal temporal transformations. The complexity of this paradoxical juxtaposition of elements is intensified by Harvey's use of two different tempos simultaneously proceeding, which requires an additional conductor to pull off. "White as Jasmine," a setting of six 12th century Hindu texts for soprano and orchestra, is the only work here to use electronics, an element typical of many of Harvey's scores. It is the most conspicuously atonal piece included, and the spikiest, but it has moments of ethereal quiet. Soprano Anu Komsi sings with pure, full, and focused tone, but the writing is often so high that the texts are unintelligible. "Tranquil Abiding," from 1998, is appropriately titled; while it has moments of intensified activity, the overall impression it leaves is one of radiant serenity, and its harmonies and orchestral sonorities are gorgeously luminescent. Similar in tone is "… towards a Pure Land," which the composer describes as an evocation of the spiritual journey toward a place that is "pure, clean, and very beautiful, with mountains, lakes, and delightful birds." The BBC Scottish Symphony, led by Ilan Volkov, plays with a confident mastery of the demanding scores and a sensitivity to their mercurial shifts and transformations. NMC's sound is clean, detailed, and present. (The composer recommends that listeners take a pause between the pieces, to surround each with a cleansing silence.)

Product Details

Release Date: 09/30/2008
Label: Nmc Records
UPC: 0675754007430
catalogNumber: 141


  1. Tranquil Abiding, for chamber orchestra
  2. Body Mandala, for orchestra
  3. Timepieces, for 2 orchestras
  4. White as Jasmine, for voice, orchestra & electronics
  5. ... towards a Pure Land, for orchestra

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