(born on 1939)
Jonathan Harvey could be thought of as an English Stockhausen: he was perhaps best known for integrating electronically generated sound with live music in the service of a mystical outlook with many (especially non-Western) philosophical influences. However, Harvey's large output also contains many accessible choral pieces and acoustic avant-garde works for orchestra or chamber ensemble. While a student at Cambridge, Harvey studied composition privately with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller (following the advice of Benjamin Britten), from whom he learned the basics of serial technique. In 1966, Harvey had a "Stockhausen conversion," and the German composer's alternately complex and simple textures had an immediate influence on him, most apparently in the instrumental pieces written from the late '60s through the 1970s, such as Quantumplation (1973) for chamber ensemble. Harvey spent much of the 1980s at IRCAM, the new-music research center in Paris under the direction of Pierre Boulez. In the first compositional result of this period, Mortuos plango, vivos voco (1980), Harvey combined the sound of his son's singing with that of a bell at Winchester Cathedral, with an effect similar to that of Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge. Another important IRCAM composition was Ritual Melodies (1990) for tape, in which Harvey continually transformed synthesized instrumental and vocal sounds and their associated melodies. Harvey taught in various English and American universities, and in 1995 began teaching composition at Stanford University in California. He died in December 2012 in Lewes, England, at the age of 73.
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Classical - Released May 20, 2016 | Signum Records
Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
An online listing stating only "Deo. Harvey. Nethsingha." might not give the potential listener much to go on. What you have here is a collection of settings of standard sacred texts by composer Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012), with the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge (men and boys, as young as ten), conducted by Andrew Nethsingha. The performance is unimpeachable; both Harvey and Nethsingha had ties to this ensemble, which is strikingly clean in what is really quite difficult choral material. It may come as a surprise to learn that Harvey, with an essentially conservative British choral language, was invited by none other than Pierre Boulez to join the IRCAM community in France, but after hearing these pieces and reading Nethsingha's informative notes, you'll get an idea of why this happened. Harvey's basic harmonic language and melodic shapes are conventional, but the way he develops them is not. His structures include numerological and other symbolic devices, and pieces often deepen into angular, difficult writing as they proceed. The result is a set of pieces that's accessible, yet offers much to study; that's rigorous, yet responds to texts in a personal way. Some pieces are a cappella, others have an organ. The choral work, from the 1970s and 1980s, is uniformly strong, but perhaps sample the riveting Toccata for organ and tape (track four) for a taste of Harvey's ability to bridge traditional and contemporary idioms, and for the ringing tones of the St. John's organ, always a pleasure. Recommended. © TiVo
Classical - Released October 11, 2013 | SARGASSO