Album: Jonathan Harvey, Speakings (Aeon)

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Harvey's three pieces here are based around the notion of instruments simulating not so much the sound as the mannerisms of human voices. "Scena", for instance, features five tableaux in which the violin behaves like a diva.

Both "Jubilus" and "Speakings" itself have their roots in Harvey's religious background: in the former, viola is the vocal supplicant shifting from plainsong melisma to Buddhist chant, while the accompanying ensemble provides an ambience of low, dark horns and gongs: the latter refers to the Buddhist "purification" of speech, in which the orchestra gradually "learns" how to express itself more clearly, thereby purifying its meaning. As always with Jonathan Harvey, it's an engrossing but challenging process.

DOWNLOAD THIS Scena; Jubilus; Speakings